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Kristen's Secret

Tormented by horrific memories of being sexually abused years before by a middle school gym teacher, Kristen Cunnane thought about killing herself -- but then she decided to fight back

Produced by Paul LaRosa

Kristen Cunnane loves her job. As the associate coach of the women's swim team at Cal Berkeley, one of the top ranked programs in the country, she gets to work with elite athletes like four-time Olympic gold medal winner Missy Franklin.

"Swimming is different than any other sport. There is a sense of peace that I never experienced anywhere else. Growing up, I've just have had so much passion for sports," she said.

Scott and Kristen Cunnane
Scott and Kristen Cunnane
Kristen Cunnane

Her home life is pretty sweet, too. Kristen is married to her high school boyfriend, Scott Cunnane, now a prosecutor in the San Francisco Bay area.

At the age of 32, Kristen seems to have life licked. But look closer and there is darkness around her, a residue of painful memories that were long buried.

"I really didn't know if I was going crazy," she told "48 Hours" correspondent Tracy Smith.

It was 2010 when Kristen began having disturbing flashbacks.

"When I first started going through the flashbacks and remembering everything that had happened to me, I didn't wanna live anymore," she said. "It was like I could see the stuff that had happened to me happening again ... stuff that I had been able to completely black out for more than 10 years."

The flood of memories transported Kristen back to Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School in the wealthy suburb of Moraga, in the San Francisco Bay area. Back in the mid-1990s, Kristen was a student there and her favorite teacher was Julie Correa, who taught physical education and coached the girl's sports teams.

"For some reason during lunchtime we would hang out in her office ... in the women's locker room. Make our lunches in there, eat our lunches in there. Kristen would store her books in there," said Maggie Rinow, who was Kristen's classmate and is still a good friend. "The fact that we got to do that was so cool. We loved it."

Julie Correa was a young married woman in her mid-20s. The girls looked up to her and Kristen trusted Correa implicitly.

"I was ... taught that, 'Teachers are good. Respect them ... be a ... good student.' And so I think a lot of ... the things she did ... taking me to get a Slurpee or those little things ... I just trusted them because she's a teacher. And of course she has good intentions," said Kristen.

Correa was not the only standout teacher at Moraga. Her colleague, Dan Witters, also was a favorite -- at least to some students.

"He was an interesting teacher. I mean, he was funny. I actually liked him as a teacher ... but he definitely had a different way of teaching," Rinow said. "... he would make inappropriate comments to girls who were blooming, you know, had breasts and who were blooming faster than other girls. He would smack girls on the butt with rulers, the yardstick."

Witters, a married father in his early 30s, taught science and liked to experiment with students to see just how far he could go.

In 1995, a woman who asked that "48 Hours" not identify her, met Witters in his science class when she was only 12 years old. She is telling her story here for the first time and asked "48 Hours" to be called Jane Doe.

"He was always very nice to me. I thought he was great. He was fun to be around," she said. "He paid a lot of attention to me ... it was flattering and it was nice.

When Jane turned 13, Witters made his move.

"It started out with a hug or a kiss on the cheek ... and he would touch me -- through my clothes and under my clothes," Jane explained. "From there things just kept going farther until he asked me if I would give him a b---job and I did and he would touch me as well."

"Where were you when this is happening?" Smith asked Jane.

"Almost always in his classroom. He had a supply room -- that was attached to it and a lot of the times it was in there," she replied.

"Did you ... feel like you had a relationship with him?" Smith asked.

"I did. He would tell me that I was special and what we had was special and what we were doing was just between us," Jane replied.

But that same spring of 1996, unbeknownst to Jane Doe, Witters also took a liking to Kristen Cunnane. She was 14 and a grade above Jane.

"He noticed when I got my braces off and he would squeeze my arm and tell me, 'Oh you're getting so strong' and pet my hair," said Kristen.

One afternoon, Witters told Kristen that he wanted to see her after class.

"I remember walking to his class ... and the blinds were drawn and then ... something happens," she said.

Whatever happened in that room was so traumatic that Kristen has blocked it out.

"I remember walking in and I have no idea what happened inside," she continued.

Traumatized and confused, Kristen confided in Julie Correa.

"...my next vivid memory is crying and sobbing to Julie and telling her," Kristen recalled. "She told me, 'You don't have to tell your parents ... I can help you through this.'"

"So her reaction was, 'let's not tell anyone'?" Smith asked.

"She told me that she would take care of it," Kristen replied. "All she did was use it to get me closer to her and isolate me..."

Julie Correa, left, and Kristen
Julie Correa, left, and Kristen

Correa's single-minded focus on Kristen did not go unnoticed. Kristen's mother, Jeanne Lewis, was concerned.

"You did start to get suspicious," Smith noted to Lewis.

"There was just a part of me that didn't like the intensity of how interested she was," she replied. "So I just told her ... 'I think that you need to not see Kristen anymore. I think it's affecting her friendships with other kids.' So she goes, 'I totally see where you're coming from and I totally respect that.' She's a charmer, she knows exactly what to say."

Kristen was mortified by her mother's behavior. At that point, nothing inappropriate had happened.

"It made me angry with my mom. Like, 'how could you think that she is being inappropriate?' or 'How could you think that she's spending too much time with me? You don't understand,'" said Kristen.

But Kristen's mother was onto something because, soon enough, Julie Correa cornered Kristen in her car.

"I remember when she dropped me off at home ... she kissed me. But it was, like, half on my mouth," Kristen said. "That's when I knew that ... she wanted something else. I felt like my life was over at that moment."

TWO TEACHERS - ONE SCHOOL

"When she kissed me and I didn't tell anyone ... she just felt like she had free rein," said Kristen Cunnane.

Kristen felt repulsed by that first kiss from Julie Correa, but, at the same time, felt powerless to do anything about it.

"I had been so devastated by what had happened with Mr. Witters that I didn't have my spirit anymore," she said. "I had no voice anymore. It was just gone."

That one kiss fueled Correa's desire. She rented an isolated apartment to be closer to the middle school.

And before her husband moved in, she invited some of her favorite students over to take a look.

"Me and Kristen and a few other girls went to the apartment," Rinow recalled. "... and then Julie said, 'OK girls, go wait at the car and Kristen, stay here. I want to show you something.' And we just went to the car."

The moment Maggie Rinow and her classmates left, Kristen said Correa literally pounced on top of her.

"She was molesting me and kissing me and stuff," Kristen told Smith, "all I could think about were my friends down there and I was just so scared that someone would ... walk in or find out what was happening."

Kristen told Smith the abuse progressed "really fast after that point."

That summer, before Kristen's first year in high school, Correa used her apartment to initiate Kristen into sex -- something Kristen knew virtually nothing about.

"I didn't know what she was doing to me," Kristen said. "I was really young -- pretty sheltered."

She was sheltered and very confused.

"I remember being so young and not understanding what she was doing that I was really worried that she could get me pregnant," she continued.

"That's heartbreaking," said Smith.

"Yeah .... that was really hard," said Kristen.

At 14 years old, life was moving way too fast.

"Without going into too much detail, can you tell us some of the stuff that she did to you?" Smith continued.

"She abused me in every way I think she could've ... digital penetration, oral copulation," she said.

"Were there moments where you thought, 'I should tell my mom?'" Smith asked.

"No," Kristen said. "Not at all."

"This whole thing, the whole Julie thing, it just did not feel right," said Lewis.

But Kristen's mother could not even imagine that Correa was sexually abusing her daughter.

"It never occurred to me that it was anything of the nature that it was," she told Smith.

Jeanne Lewis now regrets she never reported Correa to the school principal or anyone else.

"It's my fault. I should've acted on it. I should've been more forceful," she said.

Kristen had her own reasons for not reporting Correa.

"The minute I told someone, my whole life would change. She would be arrested," she explained.

"People would probably know it was me ... I didn't want my friends to know all of this horrible stuff was happening to me. And so it was just easier and safer to do what she said."

"Did you have any hint at all that this was happening to Kristen?" Smith asked Rinow.

"No," she replied. "She was better than ever. She got better grades ... was better at sports. She hid things really well."

Kristen kept quiet about Correa, but back at her middle school, the silence surrounding Dan Witters was shattered when several girls stepped forward to accuse him of wildly inappropriate behavior.

"Another girl in my class came forward and from there everything just seemed to fall apart," Jane Doe told Smith.

Teachers Julie Correa and Dan Witters
Teachers Julie Correa and Dan Witters

It was the fall of 1996. Witters was immediately suspended and then he vanished. He went missing and Jane wished she could too.

"I was confused and scared and I didn't want to talk to anyone. I just kind of wanted to fade away," she told Smith.

But that was not an option. One girl told administrators that Jane was close to Witters and Jane was called in.

Asked what that was like, Jane said "it was horrible."

"I was embarrassed and ashamed and I didn't wanna talk about it," she explained. "I was scared that my parents would find out and be mad."

And Jane felt like all her classmates knew her secret.

"How bad did it get for you?" Smith asked.

"I often thought of killing myself and I did try on two occasions," Jane replied.

Jane turned to the one person she felt she could trust. Ironically, it was Julie Correa.

"Did Julie help you through this?" Smith asked.

"She did, she was the one who was there for me," Jane replied

"Just to be clear, did Julie ever do anything inappropriate with you?" Smith continued.

"No," said Jane.

The Moraga Intermediate School was filled with whispers and innuendo, but then the police found Dan Witters. He had driven his car off a cliff at Big Sur. His death was ruled a suicide and the investigation into his behavior died with him.

"After he was found dead, everything just kind of stopped and people didn't ask any more questions and things just went back to normal. The school just moved on," said Jane.

"The school moved on, but did you?" Smith asked.

"No, and I don't think I ever really did," Jane replied.

Kristen, now a high school student, was never questioned or mentioned during the investigation into Dan Witters, but it affected her anyway. She said Julie Correa took Witters' death and used it to cement her power.

"...that became, like, her trump card. She would say things to me like, 'I'm gonna have to do what Mr. Witters did' or 'I'm gonna take you with me and do what Mr. Witters did,'" she explained. "I was just so scared. And, like, I thought, 'If I don't do what she says, she's gonna kill herself. She's gonna kill me. She's gonna kill my family.' So I just did whatever she told me to do."

And that included having sex after hours inside the middle school, in a parked car and wherever Correa wanted.

"She would always have a place picked -- to take me in her car and abuse me," said Kristen.

To further tighten her grip on Kristen, Correa got her a cell phone to keep Kristen on call all the time. But to keep it a secret, Correa made an elaborate cutout inside a Spanish-English dictionary.

"She made me carry the cell phone everywhere so I could talk to her and she could talk to me when she needed to," Kristen said. "She would say things like, 'I have to see you tomorrow. Like, 'I can't handle it if I don't see you ... I'm goin' crazy if I don't see you.' Like, 'I can't breathe.'"

And the abuse was about to reach a new unthinkable level.

"A SICK & TWISTED GAME"

In high school, Kristen dove head first into swimming to escape the relentless pursuit of her teacher, Julie Correa.

"Swimming became a place for me to have my own thing ... because Julie didn't know anything about swimming," Kristen explained, "and so swimming was still pure and mine."

But by nightfall, Kristen became terrified as she realized the extent of Correa's obsession. The teacher began sneaking into Kristen's home. Her parents always left the front door unlocked.

"She would sneak in while my mom was, like, pickin' me up from practice or school," she explained. "...she would just sit in my closet usually. And wait for hours sometimes."

Kristen Cunnane
Kristen Cunnane
"48 Hours"

Kristen says Correa forced her to have sex in Kristen's childhood bedroom as her parents slept right down the hall.

"I just felt this grab around my ankles," Kristen recalled of Correa hiding under her bed. "I like lost my breath and shook, like shook. She abused me in like every way she could have - I was just paralyzed with fear.

"...it was ... like the thrill of not being caught," Kristen said. "It was all part of a game ... a sick and twisted game to her."

"Do you have any idea how many times she abused you?" Smith asked.

"It was around 400 or 500 times," said Kristen.

That number sounds incredible, but remember, the abuse took place over a three-year period. Correa's fixation on her one-time student is shocking, but sadly, these types of cases are all too common.

"This is hardly an isolated incident, not just in this school district, but across the state, across the country?" Smith asked Dave Ring, an attorney in Los Angeles who represents former students abused by their teachers. "

"It's an epidemic. There's no doubt about it," he said. "You would think school districts put the children and their well-being first and a lot of times, they don't."

The most recent study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education found that up to seven percent of middle and high school students are the targets of sexual abuse by teachers and coaches, putting the total number of victims in the millions.

The study's author found there are differences between female abusers and their male counterparts. For women, sex is usually not the motivating factor. For them, it's love or what they believe to be love.

"An adult female abusing -- a younger female girl-- seemed to be a rarity 10, 15, 20 years ago," Ring told Smith. "And now ... you see it happening a lot. And that doesn't mean it wasn't happening back then. I just think it wasn't reported back then."

And back then, Kristen did not report her abuse. But in the fall of 1999, her senior year in high school, Kristen's life changed dramatically when she began dating classmate Scott Cunnane.

"She was in a different science class and I got her to take geology with me," said Scott.

"You convinced her to take geology with you? That was your strategy?" Smith asked with a laugh.

"It was a great move," he replied, smiling.

"He teased me and he was fun and ... he just made me question that life didn't have to be bad," Kristen said, wiping a tear from her eye.

Her new relationship gave Kristen the strength to finally confront Julie Correa.

"The night after my 18th birthday," Kristen explained, "I told her that I knew what she was, I knew what she had done to me, and that, like, 'never contact me again, or I'll tell the police.'"

After graduating high school in 2000, Kristen left home to attend UCLA where she became a three-time all-American swimmer. As time went on, she blocked out the horrific memories until they re-surfaced in 2010.

"There are memories where all of a sudden ... it'll take my breath away 'cause I'll remember her doing something really horrible to me," Kristen told Smith.

As the memories flooded back, Kristen knew she had to reveal her long-buried secret to Scott, who she married in 2007.

"I remember being so scared of telling Scott what happened to me and just thinking... 'He'll never want to be near me physically again,'" said Kristen.

"I'm trying to imagine what it must have been like to realize what had happened to her," Smith said to Scott.

"It was just hard because you knew how much pain there was for her," he said.

Kristen sought a therapist who diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

"I was a wreck. I was having a hard time not killing myself," she said.

"She would have night terrors, shaking," Scott explained, his eyes welling with tears. "You know, sometimes she wouldn't even eat."

"He said, 'I love you. We're gonna get through this. And we have two options ... We can find her and kill her [sighs] or we can go to the police,'" Kristen recalled. "I didn't even think about it - I just said, 'we'll go to the police.'"

Deputy Berch Parker, then a detective assigned to the Lafayette Police Department, was the lead investigator in the Kristen Cunanne case.

"What was your first thought when you heard Kristen's story?" Smith asked Det. Parker.

"I think my first thought was that she was very brave," he replied.

Parker believed Kristen's story right away.

"She was able to describe even the clothes that Julie wore on certain days," he told Smith.

Kristen was also able to provide important physical evidence, like the cut-out Spanish-English dictionary Correa made for Kristen to hide that secret cell phone.

cunnanecellphonenote.jpg
The cut out dictionary, cell phone and love note Correa gave Kristen
Lafayette Police Department

Kristen also gave Det. Parker a handwritten love note Correa once gave to Kristen.

"When I woke, I felt her next to me," Parker read the letter to Smith " ...Overcome by a deep feeling of adoration, I leaned over and kissed my little angel and promised myself I would always be hers."

That love note and the dictionary were great pieces of evidence.

"I thought that that ... would be enough because why in the world would anyone make up stuff like this," said Kristen.

But to arrest Julie Correa, Det. Parker would need more. He asked Kristen to call Correa after all these years. He needed her to pretend to have feelings for Julie - the woman Kristen considers a rapist.

GOING PUBLIC

The last thing Kristen Cunnane wanted to do was to get back in touch with Julie Correa - the woman who'd allegedly abused her for three years. But Kristen agreed to make the call.

"I just felt like I had already taken a step down this road ... and there was no turning back, that I had to finish what I started and ... that it was my only chance of getting my life back," Kristen told Tracy Smith.

Ten years had passed since the two had been in touch, and Correa was now the mother of two young boys. She had moved out of this part of California and was living with her husband and children outside Salt Lake City. She had stopped teaching but was very involved in her sons' sports teams.

"I really, really struggled ... with the fact that she had kids," Kristen said. "I thought about it. I've cried about it."

But Kristen was determined to get justice.

"These kids have a mom that committed horrible acts towards me. And it's my responsibility to hold her accountable for those," she said.

Julie Correa: Hello?

Kristen Cunnane: Hi.

Julie Correa: Hi. ...I can't believe you called me.

"Right when I heard her voice," Kristen explained, "I could feel what it felt like to be that

young and being manipulated by her."

"How hard was it to have those conversations?" Smith asked.

"Oh, it was horrible," Kristen replied.

Julie Correa: There are some things I can convince myself of

Kristen Cunnane: Mmhm. Like what?

Julie Correa: That I was doing good. That I was a little bit over it.

Kristen Cunnane: Over me, you mean. It's OK.

Julie Correa: I'm finding that it's not true.


Kristen Cunnane: You touched me or kissed me or whatever and like, I can't get over it.

Julie Correa: I just want you to know I'd do it all over again.

The emotional phone calls took place over the next two weeks. Kristen was coached on what to say by police who carefully monitored the conversations. Newspaper reporter Malaika Fraley covered the story and would later piece together what happened.

Asked how Correa reacted to hearing from Kristen, Fraley told Smith, "Her gut -- you could tell she thought she was being set up, and she was."

Julie Correa: I'm worried that you're trying to get me to say what concretely happened because somebody's trying to pin something on me.

"But, y'know, at the same time, she couldn't resist Kristen," Fraley continued. "She played perfectly into the trap set up by Detective Parker and Kristen."

Julie Correa: I don't know if I could see you and not have to touch you and if I touched you I don't know if I could resist. I just don't know. I don't know about you but for me there will always be an attraction. A physical attraction, like a burning inside attraction.

It wasn't only what Correa said that was important. It was also what she did not say.

"Did Julie at any point say, 'What are you talking about?'"Smith asked Det. Parker.

"No," he replied.

"Did she at any point deny--anything that had happened," Smith continued.

"No, she did not," said Parker.

Julie Correa: And just because I don't share things doesn't mean I don't remember things.

Kristen Cunnane: OK.

Julie Correa: I remember everything.

Detective Parker thought they had enough and decided to visit Julie Correa at her home near Salt Lake City. The police recorded that visit with a hidden video camera.

"I flew out to Utah and knocked on her door. And she invited us into the home and we spoke for about -- about 30 minutes," said Parker.

Julie Correa [to police]: I'm just, like, dumbfounded by this whole thing. Of course there's more to the story. ...I honestly felt like, she was trying to get me to say things...

Parker said Correa appeared nervous and asked officers to leave. They left, but soon returned and brought her in for questioning:

Julie Correa [to police]: Kristen was very manipulative, and you know, she just manipulated the heck out of me ... it was always, y'know, like I'm going to do bad things to myself. Every time I said not to call me anymore, it was like, "I can't deal with it."

Correa, who was handcuffed throughout the interrogation, denied that she and Kristen had had sex. She claimed to be a caring teacher, confused by her own feelings:

Det. Parker: So you guys talked about waiting until she was 18?

Julie Correa: I was like, let's wait and see where this goes. I don't know how I feel ... I knew that I loved her but in what way? And I didn't know what way that was because it was all so confusing to me, you know? I was married.

Detective Parker - a former teacher himself - presented Correa with the handwritten love poem she had once written to Kristen:

Det. Parker: That's your writing, isn't it?

Julie Correa: Yeah, you could say that's my writing but that's a lot more involved than I thought it was. But there's nothing there that says that I did what you are saying I did (nervous laughter).

Det. Parker: Well I haven't really said you did anything yet.

Julie Correa: Well, I know what you're leading to -- I'm not...

Correa claimed Kristen was always the aggressor:

Julie Correa: She would come on to me and kiss me or whatever and I would push her away and I would say, 'we can't, this is wrong.' ... I am trying to help her and she has had these delusional thoughts before.

Det. Parker: She has described the two of you having sex upstairs in her house while her mother is downstairs and you say, "Yes, I think about that too." That's your response to her.

Julie Correa: I don't recall saying that. I mean, I'm sure maybe you have the tapes ...

On Aug. 3, 2010, Julie Correa was arrested and later charged with 28 counts of felony child abuse -- charges that could put her behind bars for the rest of her life.

"What did it feel like when Julie was arrested?" Smith asked Kristen.

"It was a catch-22, because I didn't have to be scared anymore but then immediately my fear came to ... is my name gonna be out there, are people going to know this was me, I was terrified ... like what the media would be like," she replied.

A preliminary hearing was held in March 2011 to determine if there was enough evidence to hold Correa over for trial.

"I tried to look at her and everything just got really blurry and I got really dizzy," Kristen told Smith. "I couldn't make eye contact with her."

Correa's lawyers went on the attack. They argued that the sex was consensual. Then, Kristen took the stand.

"Every time I would get scared by a question ... I would just really quickly glance at Scott and know that he was there for me and that-- I just had to tell the truth," she said.

It wasn't easy. One of Correa's lawyers even asked Kristen if she had enjoyed sex with Julie. Scott was furious.

"That was despicable. It's despicable that someone made -- that attorney made money to make those arguments," said Scott.

In the end the judge ruled there was plenty of evidence. Julie Correa would have to stand trial. But the harsh questioning ignited Kristen's anger. She decided to go public, allowing reporters to use her face and her name. And that decision uncovered long buried secrets at Moraga Middle School.

"Very quickly ... we realized there was really a big cover-up that had gone on there," said reporter Matthias Gafni.

"I think the school said we don't want to deal with this, we don't want the hassle," attorney Dave Ring said. "They knew exactly what was going on."

THE COVER-UP

"I think coming forward has been the hardest thing that I've ever faced," Kristen Cunnane said. "It's always been about telling the truth."

"Kristen changed everything," her husband, Scott Cunnane said, "because if she hadn't come forward-- there would have been no investigation."

Once Kristen made that difficult decision to go public, she told her story first to reporters Matthias Gafni and Malaika Fraley of the Bay Area News Group.

"She felt a responsibility because she is a role model to young people. She wanted to let other people know that it's OK to stand up for yourself," said Fraley.

Acting on a tip from Kristen, the reporters fought to unearth secret documents the Moraga School District had long kept hidden.

"With the hundred or so documents we received," Gafni explained, "we realized there was really a big cover-up that had gone on there."

The documents revealed that former school administrators knew that science teacher Dan Witters was sexually abusing middle school girls for two years before he drove his car off a cliff in 1996. In 1994, a former student of Witters wrote the school a detailed letter outlining the abuse.

"...she basically says ... Dan Witters drove me home from a school event and sexually molested me," said Matthias.

That letter was only the first written warning the school received about Witters. In 1995, there was another memo, which gave clear examples of Witters' criminal behavior. The memo was written by Julie Correa who, incredibly, would begin her own abuse of Kristen a year later.

"Many people think that-- that Julie was testing the waters with the administration-- by reporting Dan Witters," said Fraley.

"To see if they would do anything?" Smith asked.

"Right. And when they didn't -- many people think that that gave Julie a license to ramp up this -- inappropriate relationship that she had with Kristen," Fraley replied.

California law - even then -- required that teachers and school officials tell police if they suspected a minor was being abused. Despite that law, neither Correa nor the school principal reported Witters to authorities.

On May 28, 2012, reporters Gafni and Fraley exposed the cover-up in a devastating story.

"My first reaction -- absolute outrage," lawyer Dave Ring said of reading the article. "They concealed everything they knew about Dan Witters."

"I just couldn't believe ... that all of these people knew for so long what he was doing ... and just chose to do nothing," said Jane Doe.

"And they could have stopped it," Smith commented.

"I think they absolutely could have stopped it," said Jane.

Jane Doe, who had attempted suicide twice after being abused by Dan Witters, hired lawyer Dave Ring. And in February 2013, Ring and his legal team filed a civil lawsuit against the school district.

"If Moraga and the administrators had followed the law ... Dan Witters would have been fired ... and most likely would have been arrested and imprisoned. And Jane Doe and those other girls that came after him would never have been exposed to him," said Ring.

"What did they do to you by not reporting Mr. Witters?" Smith asked Jane.

"They made me live my life like this, faking relationships [pauses] and acting like everything is OK," she replied.

"When in reality?" Smith asked.

"Nothing is OK," Jane replied. "...this is something that will probably be with me forever."

Jane Doe was one of three women who came forward saying they had been abused by Witters in the mid-90s.

"Do you believe that if the school district would have stopped Mr. Witters, this whole thing might not have happened to you with Julie?" Smith asked Kristen.

"I 100-percent believe that," she replied.

Current administrators at the Moraga School District apologized to the women who were abused and gave "48 Hours" a statement noting that it has learned from past mistakes and is fostering a "new culture."

But the sins of the past came to a head in December 2011. Nine months had passed since a judge had ruled there was enough evidence to hold Julie Correa over for trial.

"What was it like being in court with Julie and Kristen both there?" Smith asked Fraley.

"It was intense ... I mean, the courtroom was stuffed with people," she said. "And Julie faced over a hundred years in prison."

juliecorreacourt.jpg
Former Morago teacher and coach Julie Correa waits to be sentenced on Dec. 13, 2011.
Bay Area News Group

Facing life in prison, Julie Correa instead worked out a plea deal with prosecutors. She pleaded "no contest" to four felony counts, including one charge of rape. In her remarks to the court, Correa told Kristen, "It was never, never my intention to hurt you. I cared deeply for you."

"What she did to me is unforgivable and I'm not -- I have no plans on forgiving her," Kristen said. "That's just not who I am."

In December 2011, Julie Correa -- the former P.E. teacher and coach who had never been charged with sexually abusing any other children -- was sentenced to eight years in prison. Correa did not respond to "48 Hours"' repeated requests for an interview.

"I mean, there will still be scars for the rest of my life, but I think I'm learning to live with my scars," said Kristen.

The truth is that Correa's crimes continue to impact Kristen and her family.

"She has nightmares of being in this house. She cannot go be on the stairs or up into her bedroom," said Kristen's mother, Jeanne Lewis.

For years now, Kristen has been unable to visit the house where she grew up.

"There's millions of good memories of growing up there, but the hundreds of bad memories of what she did to me there, just is like overwhelming," she said.

Through all the pain and upheaval, Kristen has always had swimming -- the sport she loves -- to fall back on.

She also has the support of her "little army" as she likes to call them -- the women of Cal Berkeley's swim team where she's the associate coach.

"I get to coach swimmers transitioning from adolescents and to being college adult athletes and it's a wonderful job and it's gotten me through some really hard times," said Kristen.

In perhaps the ultimate irony of this story, Kristen is now the coach everyone looks up to ... the coach she had always hoped Julie Correa would be.

The school district paid out a total of $18.65 million to Kristen Cunnane and the three other victims who filed civil lawsuits.

Julie Correa is eligible for parole in 2018. Her husband has filed for divorce.

In May 2015, Kristen gave birth to her second child, a baby boy.

LEARN RED FLAG BEHAVIORS

While these warning signs do not always indicate abuse, they do cross appropriate athlete-coach boundaries:

  1. Spending one-on-one time with children such as in private practice sessions.
  2. Singling youth out for special attention or gift giving.
  3. Touching children in ways not related to training for the sport.
  4. Telling youth sexual or inappropriate jokes and stories.
  5. Commenting on children's appearances when not related to the sport.

Source: The National Center for Missing & Expoited Children: Tips for Protecting Child Athletes from Sexual Abuse

RESOURCES:

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it's not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE.