Former sexually abused champion coach banned from speaking at her former country club

In what can only be described as one of the most bizarre and likely inexcusable decisions in recent memory, a national champion swimming coach at Cal-Berkeley who was sexually abused as a young swimmer was refused the right to give a free swimming clinic at an area country club essentially because she was sexually abused.

Cal swimming associate head coach Kristen Cunnane —
Cal swimming associate head coach Kristen Cunnane —

As first reported by the Contra Costa Times, Cal-Berkeley associate swimming coach Kristen Cunnane planned to host a free youth swimming clinic at the Moraga Country Club pool until the club itself banned her from speaking on the premises.

Here's how the Times explained the situation:

And then she got a call from the Waves swim coach Wednesday, telling her the country club's board of directors has banned her from speaking there.

According to Cunnane and others familiar with the situation, some parents sympathize with retiring Los Perales Elementary School principal Bill Walters, who has been criticized for not alerting police in 1994 after a girl complained she had been sexually abused by a teacher.

By way of clarification, Walters failed to disclose reported sexual abuse of Cunnane by one of the school's science teachers. When Walters failed to help Cunnane, she later turned to her middle school PE teacher, who instead developed a relationship with the then-teenager that included years of rape.

To date, Walters has gone unpunished for those actions, and he plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2011-12 school year. In December, former Moraga (Calif.) Middle School PE teacher Julie Correa was sentenced to eight years in prison for sexually abusing Cunnane when she was a 14-year-old middle school student.

On Wednesday, Cunnane was named the NCAA's women's assistant swimming coach of the year.

The Moraga Country Club decision to reject Cunnane hit hard at the coach, who insisted that she had no plans to speak about her abusive history, instead planning to focus on her love of swimming and how the club had played an important role in her development.

Now she's simply wondering why the club at which her swimming and coaching career took flight seems to be punishing the coach for her own victimhood.

"My speech had nothing to do with my abuse; it had to do with my love for that country club and the opportunities swimming has given me," Cunnane told the Times. "I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed. This is why people don't come forward, because it affects every part of their lives.

"When I came forward, my only intention was to hold someone who raped me accountable and get my life back."

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