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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alumni demand HM investigate abuse

By Sarina Trangle
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents 25 alleged sexual abuse victims, speaks at a press conference in the Omni Berkshire Hotel Monday.

 

 

Nearly a year after allegations of long-standing sexual abuse at Horace Mann first surfaced, four victims spoke out publicly for the first time on Monday.

At a press conference held in Manhattan, they urged the school to conduct an investigation into the alleged abuse and for legislators to pass the Markey Bill, which would suspend a New York statute of limitations barring victims of childhood abuse from starting a criminal or civil cases after they turn 24.

While the victims wait to see how the school responds to their pleas for an inquiry, some alumni have already commissioned an investigation. The Horace Mann Action Coalition, formed in the wake of the first New York Times article about an alleged culture of abuse, hired Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, who founded the Manhattan Sex Crimes Prosecution bureau and worked as a criminal prosecutor and judge in New York for 35 years. 

Judge Snyder said she’s confident more victims will come forward and that there will be a successful investigation, regardless of Horace Mann’s cooperation. 

The alumni gathered at a hotel on East 52nd Street sat beside enlarged photographs of themselves as adolescents while speaking about the toll that high school abuse had taken on them.  

Jon Seiger, 51, said he kept silent for many years because one of his abusers was the Horace Mann headmaster.

Mr. Seiger, now a jazz musician, said he couldn’t find a safe haven on the hilltop campus and spent five years being abused by four now-deceased educators — headmaster Inslee “Inky” Clark Jr., art and music department head Johannes Somary, history teacher Stanley Kops and art professor and assistant football coach Mark Wright. He said four additional former staff members also abused him, but he did not name them. 

The 1979 alumnus said Mr. Kops once threatened to circulate photographs he had taken of Mr. Seiger masturbating as Mr. Kops and another adult watched.

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HenryHudson

So it's come to this. Victims underwriting an investigation that HM should've conducted when the story broke last year. Just when you think HM's headmaster, Tom Kelly, and Board of Trustees president, Steven Friedman, can't sink any lower, they fall right on through, redefining bottom. Shame on them. At this point, if HM issued an apology and commissioned its own independent investigation it would ring hollow, as if they were dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing. As an HM alumnus, I have never been more disgusted with the school.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 | Report this
HMAlum

The previous comment is correct. It may be absurd for the alumni to have to conduct a figurative bake-sale to get to the bottom of these crimes and cover-ups, but it's become necessary after over a year of denial and scheming, which began with the school's response to Riverdale native Amos Kamil's then-impending article in the NY Times. It is amazing that Dr. Kelly and Mr. Friedman have ignored the recommendation of their own Alumni Council, given after the Alumni Council heard and considered all of Dr. Kelly's and Mr. Friedman's strange arguments for refusing an independent investigation. Like too many of their HM predecessors, Dr. Kelly and Mr. Friedman have proven themselves unworthy of trust and responsibility. Bravo to the Riverdale Press and Sarina Trangle for the excellent reporting on this unfolding melodrama.

Thursday, April 25, 2013 | Report this
DavidW

Horace Mann's trustees have now exposted themselves to a risk of action against them by the New York Attorney General. The trustees have breached their fiduciary duty by harming the school's reputation, illustrated by the intensively negative press coverage and public commentary brought on not by the abuse itself, but by the continuing cover-up. This is especially the case now that the trustees know they can settle cases for small amounts, and now that there's no real risk of the school's suffering material financial harm. Arguably, before these settlements (and being able to scope the amount of additional future claims), a trustee might have argued that the downside of investigating and telling the truth outweighted the downside of easing victims' paths to a large financial recovery. (This was always a disingenuous argument, given the school's own assertion that victims' claims were barred by the statute of limitations.) But even taking that old analysis on its own terms, it's clearly now been flipped on its head. Every day they fail to find and tell the truth--allying themeselves with the secret-keepers of the past--the trustees are reducing the value of a Horace Mann diploma more and more, harming current students, their parents, and alumni. One is hard-pressed to understand how the school's and the trustees' individual lawyers are advising them any differently. Until they begin an investigation and tell the facts of what happened, Attorney General Schneiderman should be urged by anyone who cares to take action against the trustees.

Thursday, April 25, 2013 | Report this
HMAlum

DavidW is correct. Also, if Steven Fife is telling the truth, Dr. Mullady tried to cover up sex abuse, and then lied to law enforcement about her actions.

Friday, April 26, 2013 | Report this
bronxrunner

I guarantee some big names in NYC "high society" are involved in this scandal, which is why the investigation, like the Franklin savings and loan pedophilia case in 1980's, will go nowhere. These kids were probably being pimped out in addition to the abuse they suffered at the hands of teachers.

Friday, April 26, 2013 | Report this
TedS1234

The Horace Mann story is extremely similar to the Penn State scandal, but the national attention and legal repercussions are drastically different. In both situations, the heads of the organization knew about molestation going on within the organization, but did nothing to stop it. In Penn State's case, this has destroyed their reputation as a school and the football team will probably never be the same. In Horace Mann's case, their being allowed to just walk away without any legal repercussions? How is this possible? Eileen Mallady already retired from her role as head of school at Pacific Ridge School right around the time this story broke. I wonder if shame had anything to do with it? (I hope so). Mullady should be fined and go to jail for what she allowed to be done to this students. Who are the real criminal heres? Eileen Mullady is definitely one of them.

Sunday, September 1, 2013 | Report this
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