Fast-forward to 2010, Kristen is now having vivid flashbacks back to the time when she was repeatedly raped by her P.E. coach. She’s in a relationship, she’s successful, but there’s this one thing she’s never done: Get justice for what happened to her. She needed to tell the world that during a three-year period, she was raped from 400-500 times by someone she was supposed to trust, and she was just a kid. Rape culture is normalized and minimized down to a narrow aspect; sometimes it’s scrutinized based on our binary attitudes about gender and sexuality. This is not a case about gender; it’s not about a young girl who overdramatized an embarrassing encounter she allowed to happen because she didn’t know any better.
It was from the support of Kristen’s high school boyfriend Scott who she met in her senior year and is still with today, that she eventually decided to report Correa’s crime to the police. It had been nearly a decade since Kristen confronted her on the night after her 18th birthday, telling her to stay away from her for good. While it’s rare to see female teachers abusing their female students, we’re learning more and more about women in this dynamic, and that for women perpetrators, sex isn’t necessarily the motivating factor, rather, it’s their warped idea of love. Kristen had evidence of this to show police—a love note Correa had written her where she called Kristen her “little angel” and promised to “be hers” always.
With the investigation underway, detectives had Kristen do the unthinkable—call Correa and actually pretend to have feelings for her, after all this time. On the recorded phone conversation, Kristen feeds her former coach lines, and Correa takes the bait, saying, “I just want you to know that I’d do it all over again.” On one hand, she couldn’t resist this blast from her past, as if she was reconnecting with an old flame who she’d never fully let go of—telling Kristen she may not be able to resist touching her if she saw her again, sharing, “I remember everything,” and saying so with a fondness, as if Kristen might be strolling down the same lane. She’d convinced herself that this was a legitimate relationship, perhaps only punishable by the fact that she was her teacher, but certainly not her rapist.
By now, Julie Correa had two children and lived with her husband in Salt Lake City. When investigators finally confronted Correa, she sat in an interrogation room, handcuffed in sneakers and workout attire, telling them Kristen “manipulated the heck out of me.” She offers that Kristen would threaten to hurt herself when Correa tried to shut down their communication. She paints herself as a married woman who has a husband to go home to, certainly not an adolescent girl’s home to stake out and wait in for hours until Kristen’s parents go to sleep, so she can have her way. You’d think if she did believe so intently that this relationship was perhaps platonic (as evidence in her recorded conversation with Kristen), that she wouldn’t put the blame on Kristen. But she did. What she didn’t say was that Kristen wanted it as much as she did—but that Kristen was the chief operator in making this happen. If we may connect the dots, all these lies seem to add up to one thing: Denial of her very real and very irresponsible crimes. The interrogation goes on, she’s shown the love note she once penned—so tripped up at the sight of this letter that she jumps the gun and says she didn’t do what she’s being accused of, even though she hasn’t been accused yet.
As if this story can’t get any worse, when investigators took a deeper look at Kristen’s middle school administration, they discovered Julie Correa had reported Mr. Witters all those years ago to the school, perhaps to see how they would handle it—which as we know, they didn’t. Was this the enticement she gave herself to pursue Kristen, knowing the administration may never take any allegations seriously? In the end, she was arrested on 28 counts of abuse and accepted a plea bargain after learning she could face over a hundred years in prison—no contest to four felony counts, one being rape. She is now carrying out an eight-year sentence.
As for Kristen, she’s a three-time All-American swimmer and is the Associate Head Coach of the women’s swimming team at University of California, Berkeley, a place where her Cal Bears army looks up to her in all the ways she once hoped to look up to coaches.
For more info on Kristen’s case, you can watch the episode here.