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Women file $15 million claims against California school district, contending sexual abuse by teacher

Two women who say they were sexually abused in the 1990s by a teacher who later committed suicide have each filed a $15 million claim against a California school district and three former administrators.

The women, referred to as Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 in court documents, contend the Moraga School District had received multiple complaints of inappropriate conduct by the teacher, Dan Witters, over the years but did little or nothing to stop it.

Witters, who taught at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School, killed himself in 1996 shortly after the Jane Does came forward with allegations of sexual abuse, according to the Contra Costa Times

Witter never faced criminal charges and Moraga police stopped their investigation upon his death, according to the newspaper.

The tort claims filed last week follow an earlier claim filed in August by Kristen Cunnane, now a 30-year-old swim coach at UC Berkeley, against the same defendants. Cunnane alleges she was abused by Witters and another teacher two decades ago. Her claim was denied, and she filed a lawsuit Sept. 25 seeking unspecified damages, the Contra Costa Times reported.

According to the latest Jane Doe claims:

Claimant never suspected wrongdoing by Moraga School District until late May or early June 2012, when, for the first time, it was revealed to her that Moraga School District had received multiple complaints demonstrating that Witters was sexually abusing certain female students during the 1990-1994 timeframe and then had covered-up and concealed its knowledge after Witters killed himself in 1996. Claimant learned this information for the first time when she read an investigative news story in a local newspaper that detailed the District’s culpability. The news story was based on internal District documents that had never been previously released to the public and, in fact, had been previously concealed by the District.

After Witters committed suicide, the school district concealed and covered up its knowledge of past complaints, the claims allege.

“Claimant now knows that if District officials had simply done what the law required of them to do – report suspected child abuse and supervise their teacher appropriately – then Claimant would never have been abused or harmed by Witters,” the claims say.

Bruce Burns, superintendent of the Moraga School District, did not immediately return a telephone call for comment on Wednesday from NBC News.

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