Alleged abuse victim settles with Horace Mann School

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In March 2014 a judge in Bergen County Superior Court rejected Horace Mann attorneys’ contention that her court did not have jurisdiction over the alleged abuse by Mr. Somary. She noted that 10 percent of Horace Mann students come from New Jersey and that the school collects revenue from events, competitions and extracurricular programs in the state.

The deal between the plaintiff and his alma mater comes shortly after Ms. Arnold had the opportunity to question the current head of school, Thomas Kelly, in a process known as discovery. The case was scheduled for a jury trial ahead of the settlement announcement.

Had the case continued, it would have forced the school to defend itself against abuse allegations in court for the first time. Although new evidence that may have come out in a trial will remain undisclosed, Mr. Brooks said it was significant that “the price of silence got much bigger” as a result of the settlement. 

“It was undoubtedly enormous amounts of work from many parties involved,” Mr. Brooks said in an e-mail. “The result was that Horace Mann is being held accountable in some public way.”

But some activists did not share his optimism that the settlement would encourage others to come forward.

“Almost everyone who is going to come forward has come forward,” Joseph Cumming, an abuse survivor, said in a phone interview. Mr. Cumming, who had himself been asked to give a deposition if the case went to trial, said he was glad not to be questioned in circumstances that could be “freshly traumatizing.”

He added that he was nevertheless happy that the plaintiff in the New Jersey case was able to settle, noting, “Things are certainly complex and not one-sided.”

Since The New York Times first reported on the school’s legacy of sexual abuse in 2012, Mr. Brooks says 63 victims and 22 faculty perpetrators have been identified by HMAC, which has repeatedly called for an independent investigation of the matter. Multiple alumni have claimed that they were abused during school trips that took them out of New York.

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