A man who sued Horace Mann School over alleged sexual abuse that took place years ago in New Jersey has settled with his alma mater. The unnamed plaintiff was one of a few people believed to have suffered at the hands of Horace Mann educators who did not settle with the school in the months after the institution’s legacy of abuse came to light in 2012.
Rosemarie Arnold, the plaintiff’s lawyer, confirmed the settlement on April 2, but declined to provide any further information, including the terms of the deal. She previously said that, based on the substantial evidence provided by her client, she would seek a settlement between $10 and $15 million.
Horace Mann administrators did not return press inquiries and a communications firm the school hired to discuss the sexual abuse also declined to comment.
An organizer for the Horace Mann Action Coalition, a group of graduates who have called for justice over the abuse, had mixed feelings about the outcome of the New Jersey case.
“Surely we all hoped for more from the justice system, but the outcome is historic, with implications for the school and other victims,” said Peter Brooks.
Mr. Brooks added that he hopes the success of the settlement encourages other victims to come forward with their cases.
Since 2012, about 30 former Horace Mann students have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse at the elite school from the 1960s through the 1990s. But since the accusations came more than 15 years after the alleged crimes — the window of opportunity to seek justice, according to the state’s statutes of limitations — most reportedly accepted small “now-or-never” settlements out of court. Activists familiar with the plaintiffs estimated the payouts ranged from $20,000 to $350,000.
However, New Jersey, which has a more liberal statue of limitations on child sexual abuse, left an opening for an anonymous plaintiff who walked out of the earlier negotiations. The plaintiff accused Johannes Somary, a music instructor at the school who died in 2011, of sexually abusing him 450 times between 1973 and 1977.