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Kristin profile [SQ default] sio

[TW: child abuse, sexual assault!] Northern CA school district blames victim

11:23 am - 11/14/2012
this shit just infuriates me.

After filing a lawsuit against the district that employed her assailants, a former middle school student finds herself pegged as responsible for her rape.

Two teachers at Moraga Middle School in northern California sexually abused Kristen Cunnane in the 1990s. One, former P.E. teacher Julie Correa, received an eight year sentence. The other, former science teacher Daneil Witters, committed suicide after several students came forward with allegations against him in 1996.

Now an adult, Cunnane filed a lawsuit against the school district that employed these two teachers, seeking compensation for being raped and abused for several years. In response to her legal complaint, the district offered a surprising defense :

Defendants allege that Plaintiff was herself careless and negligent in and about the matters alleged in the complaint , and that said carelessness and negligence on said Plaintiff’s part proximately contributed to the happenings of the incident and to the injuries, loss and damages complained of, if any there were....

[Alternatively, d]efendants allege that Plaintiff was herself responsible for the acts and damages of which she claims herein , and by reason thereof is estopped from obtaining any damages as result thereof.

Just in case this dry legal language is not clear, the school district claims that Cunnane was “herself responsible” for the fact that she was repeatedly sexually abused by her school teachers, beginning at age 12. Or, just in case a jury won’t buy that claim, that she was “careless and negligent” in the matter of her own rape.

To be fair, the most likely explanation for how the school district could have come to make such a claim is more of an indictment of the district’s lawyers than of its administrators. The school district’s legal filing is almost entirely boilerplate language of the kind that careless attorneys might copy and paste into a document without considering its implications — or its likely emotional impact on a child sex abuse victim. The district, however, is not apologizing for its claims. Instead, it released a statement claiming that “this is a significant case that could have serious consequences for our school district... As a result, at this point in the proceedings we have an obligation not to waive any potential legal lines of defense.”

chaya 15th-Nov-2012 02:33 am (UTC)
borderline_mary 15th-Nov-2012 02:47 am (UTC)
beginning at age 12

I'm going to be ill.
jamethiel_bane 15th-Nov-2012 02:54 am (UTC)
I hope whoever thought this was appropriate experiences SOME DEGREE of the anguish that this poor woman felt as a kid. This is disgusting.
silver_apples 15th-Nov-2012 03:17 am (UTC)
at this point in the proceedings we have an obligation not to waive any potential legal lines of defense.

Because adults claiming a child was asking to be raped always look good in court. Jeez. Even if they can't muster up a bit of basic human decency and empathy, you'd think they'd at least hire a PR person to tell them how to fake it.
zinnia_rose 15th-Nov-2012 03:19 am (UTC)
She was TWELVE FUCKING YEARS OLD. She was a CHILD. It is always, always, always the job of the ADULTS to, you know, not rape her. What a load of steaming bullshit.
unbridledglee 15th-Nov-2012 03:41 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, a kid was responsible for being raped. That makes a lot of sense.

Just, why do people even think this is right? f*** them all.
shadowkeeper 15th-Nov-2012 06:26 am (UTC)
Aside from the disgusting victim blaming issue, I just recently learned about contributory negligence, and I thought you couldn't hold minors to that shit.

But seriously, fuck these people.
silver_apples 15th-Nov-2012 06:57 am (UTC)
From what I can tell based on the Wikipedia article and dictionary.law.com, contributory negligence is used in cases of accidents, where harm was not intended. Rape is not an accident. Also, California doesn't have "pure" contributory negligence laws, so even if the defense worked (which I doubt it will), it's not reason to deny the victim any compensation.
shadowkeeper 15th-Nov-2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
Oops. I forgot about the intentional tort issue. I haven't looked up CA law, but non standard contributory negligence building tends to be where they don't consider it comparatively and fiddle with how much or little a victim has to be responsible for the accident to get any compensation.
shhh_its_s3cr3t 15th-Nov-2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
Disgusted is too good a word.... its too positive for the emotion I have right now over this. CHILDREN........ CHILDREN.....

Fuck those lawyers and all their victim blaming of CHILDREN.... UGH!
pamelalillian 15th-Nov-2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
what the fuck is this shit

tothechangmin 15th-Nov-2012 03:59 pm (UTC)
fuck, so now we're expecting 12-year-olds to be able to defend themselves?

so sick of all these assholes and their victim-blaming.
deathbytamarind 15th-Nov-2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
Ugh Moraga. I'm not surprised at all. I lived in the East Bay for 27 years and that place was the absolute worst.

I feel just awful for the victim of this shit, that she has to live now with the school district blaming her.
psychababble 17th-Nov-2012 06:56 am (UTC)
^^ This. I saw Moraga and was all.... *slow clap*
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