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Monday, September 1, 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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