By Lisa Fleisher (Associated Press)
May 24, 2013
Top Horace Mann officials acknowledged for the first time late Friday years of abuse at the exclusive private school, apologizing for the “unconscionable betrayals of trust” but stopping short of authorizing an independent investigation.
In a letter posted to the school’s website, Horace Mann officials said 31 alumni had described “in painful detail” abuse that happened between 17 and 51 years ago. But the letter from Steven Friedman, chair of the Board of Trustees, and Head of School Thomas Kelly noted that the statute of limitations on the claims had passed and the school had no power to compel the alleged abusers to respond.
“It is clear that between 1962 and 1996, former teachers and administrators in fact did abuse, in various degrees, students at Horace Mann School,” the letter said. “We sincerely apologize for the harm that was caused by the teachers and administrators who abused anyone during their years at Horace Mann School.”
The letter also thanked the abused students for “having the courage to come forward.” The stories of abuse tumbled into the public eye in a long New York Times magazine story published last June.
In April, the Bronx district attorney’s office released the results of a 10-month investigation that found a “systematic pattern of alleged abuse” by a dozen people who allegedly targeted students.
In the letter, Horace Mann officials also said they would remove the position of trustee emeritus at the end of June, which would ostensibly remove several trustees who had been accused of ignoring claims of abuse.
Joseph Cumming, one of the former students who said he was abused, said he appreciated the school’s actions and apologies but was disappointed there wouldn’t be another independent investigation.
“The school is effectively saying no to our primary request,” he said.