DA can’t prosecute ‘systemic’ Horace Mann abuse

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The Horace Mann Action Coalition, which formed in the wake of the June 2012 New York Times Magazine article that first publicized alumni’s accounts of abuse, noted that it had documented at least 18 instances of school personnel failing to act on allegations.

The organization said the school’s failure to act on reports and authorities’ determination that its recent polices on sexual abuse were insufficient show that the school still has work to do. HMAC continues to encourage Horace Mann to cooperate with the investigation it has commissioned Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder to conduct.

Some alumni have sent a letter to the New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Office asking it to investigate whether the school trustees, as leaders of a non-profit, have breached their fiduciary duties by refusing to authorize an investigation and, therefore, put Horace Mann’s reputation and future at risk. The agency confirmed receipt of the letter, but would not discuss it.

At an April 23 faculty awards dinner, Mr. Friedman said the trustees’ chief concerns were protecting jobs, the endowment and current students’ education, according to an attendee. Mr. Friedman reportedly thanked parents for their support through contributions. 

Mr. Cumming said Mr. Friedman’s repeated references to “alleged abuse that may or may not have happened” and “people who may or may not have been hurt at the school” re-traumatizes victims.

“It communicates to the world that the school does not want to know what happened and does not want to take responsibility for what happened,” he said. “He should be ashamed of himself for speaking that way.”

Charles Balter, whose brother Benjamin Balter committed suicide in 2009 years after he reported being abused by the now-deceased art department chair Johannes Somary, said he’s no longer shocked at the trustees’ “failure to show sympathy or courtesy to families or victims.”

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