Kristen Cunnane, was 11 in middle school in Moraga, Calif., when she was pursued, lured, enticed and threatened into a sexual “relationship” with a female coach at school.
It lasted through high school and would have continued had not Kristen met a young man with whom she fell in love. The coach was so aggressive that she stalked Kristen, even as she dated the young man.
Finally, Kristen put an end to that. She married and went on with her life – until all the horror resurfaced. She was depressed and was near suicide. By that time, she’d told her husband who urged her to go to police, which she finally did.
My column of last week detailed the circumstances of Kristen’s ordeal and what she did to gain some justice. Her sexual aggressor, who finally confessed, is serving eight years in prison.
Unfortunately, it’s not complete justice. The teachers and administrators – from the superintendent on down – suffered nothing from their apparent collusion in ignoring what was going on and doing nothing.
They knew about it and had complaints, at first from six students and later eight, but they did nothing. No one was suspended or fired.
Another teacher, a male, was also named as a predator at the same time. Nothing was done. Three years later, when rumors began circulating about the allegations, that man committed suicide.
How convenient for the administrators who did nothing. They were, and apparently are, off the hook – statute of limitations and all that.
Many of the same people are still involved in school operations.
All the details became public May 27 when the Contra Costa Times published Kristen’s story. She went public after the trial of her abuser, to encourage all victims to have the courage to speak out.
As soon as the man who was principal when Kristen was abused heard about the newspaper investigation, he conveniently retired. He was still a principal in the system!
I interviewed Kristen and the news reporter. I went to the last school-board meeting, and only one person objected to the cover-up by the district and demanded an outside investigation.
(The district said it will investigate itself and instruct teachers and parents to recognize abuse!)
I spoke up, berating their toleration of such crimes in the district and said they need to reveal who knew what and when, or resign.
One mother spoke to defend the superintendent and the board and all the teachers, and she was so supportive that she dissolved into tears at the fact anyone questioned their actions.
She didn’t have a word of support for Kristen and never mentioned her.
Thus far, not one board member has spoken to the media or to town residents. Three teachers who supported Kristen’s abuser because she was a “fellow teacher,” presented a letter saying when they found out the truth, they backed off.
But, there are at least 13 other teachers who supported the abuser coach and haven’t publicly retracted that.
The week after the article, Kristen (now a champion swimmer and coach at U.C. Berkeley) was disinvited to present a clinic at the Moraga Country Club, where she had learned to swim and where her parents are members.
They said she never should have been asked because there “is much more to the story than meets the eye.”
The resulting flap caused them to reinvite her, and it turned out fine, even though some people complained the publicity was bad for Moraga’s image and would affect property values!
Only one resident wrote a “letter to the editor” about Kristen.
Consider: This is the town where infuriated people threatened to sue to stop a Dollar Store from opening because it would hurt property values, the same town that was sued by residents because of dog park rules.
It appears this is a town that doesn’t care about abuse of its children but does care about protecting political turf, personal politics, re-election and image.
I went to the town-council meeting that same week and told them they need to write a letter to support Kristen, to demand the school board have an outside investigation and to demand that the country club explain its actions.
I said if they didn’t they should resign or be voted out of office.
As a result, a letter supporting Kristen was released but nothing else.
The silence is deafening.
And speaking of deafening – through all the talk and all the newspaper articles, nowhere is there any comment or reaction from the teachers’ union.
Does anyone really believe it’s not involved? Does anyone believe it didn’t have some influence in the decision to do nothing to discipline anyone?
Is the sky blue?
When does molestation of a student by a teacher, a coach, a priest or anyone else become a cover-up?
It does when the people who know what’s going on do nothing to stop it and do nothing to involve law enforcement.
It’s a cover-up of greater magnitude when the people who know about the abuse are in positions of authority over the molester and do nothing.
To me, that makes them as guilty as the abuser – worse, because they allow the abuse to continue.
A predator teacher is an attacker.
The people who do not report such attacks to authorities are, in my view, accessories to child rape.
It appears there are some of those in Moraga.
They may not like that truth, but that’s too bad.
Truth often hurts, but it doesn’t change.