Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Formed teacher sentenced to prison for sex with a teen girl

Julie Gay Correa, 43-year-old former teacher at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School in Moraga, California has been sentenced to eight years in state prison for the sexual abuse of a teen girl between1996 to 1999, beginning when the victim was 14-year-old.Judge Clare Maier decleared Correa a sex offender who had "created an inappropriate environment not only for the victim, but for many middle school girls."Maier also ordered the former teacher and coach to pay nearly $8,000 in restitution to the victim, now 29-year-old Walnut Creek resident Kristen Cunnane.

Correa, who moved to Utah to start a new life as a stay-at-home mom a couple years after Cunnane broke free from her, could have been sentenced to more than 100 years in prison had she not accepted a deal from the Attorney General's Office and pleaded no contest to four felony sex crimes.

Cunnane said that once the sexual abuse began, she was too fearful and ashamed to tell anyone about it. She felt she could not escape Correa, who would watch her high school soccer games from afar with binoculars and would pop up wherever Cunnane was around town. Cunnane said Correa kept tabs on her via a secret cellphone that she provided and instructed her to hide in the hollowed out pages of a Spanish-English dictionary.

She would sneak into Cunnane's family home and hide in her closet, or under her bed. Correa once broke her leg while jumping out of a second-story window to avoid the girl's parents.

Correa told her that if she told anyone, she would commit suicide like Mr. Witters, another teacher at the school. Daniel Witters killed himself in 1996 just as police began investigating numerous molestation allegations.

"I had no other choice. I did not want to lose my family. I did not want to lose my life. I did not want Julie to kill herself," Cunnane said. "I was made to believe I would never have a life beyond Julie's control."

Though she said Correa did contact her after she enrolled at UCLA, the two didn't speak again until 2010, when detectives said Cunnane would need to call her former teacher to build more evidence for a sexual assault case, she said. During those calls and later, in court, Correa admitted to the abuse, referring to her "past connection" with Cunnane.