1. What happened?
Over several decades a number of teachers at the Horace Mann School in New York City sexually abused students. It was first exposed by Amos Kamil in The New York Times magazine section (June, 2012) in an article titled, “Prep-School Predators.” The article singled out two teachers in particular, Johannes Somary, the Head of the Art Department, and Mark Wright, an Art teacher and football coach.
2. Was it really that bad?
Worse. Since the article appeared, over two dozen alumni have stepped forward and shared their harrowing stories of perversion and predation. It now appears that at least a dozen teachers at Horace Mann were involved in sexually abusing students, some for decades. One of the pedophiles appears to have been the Headmaster from 1970 to 1980, R. Inslee Clark, Jr..
Indeed, the sheer volume of predators in one small institution raises questions about whether there was possibly a criminal conspiracy among some teachers to abuse children.
Tragically, several students appear to have committed suicide as a result of their experiences. Certainly, many have been traumatized for life.
3. Was there a coverup?
It sure looks that way. On a number of occasions survivors state that they told someone in a position of responsibility about the abuse and nothing was done. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that some administrators and Board Members were completely ignorant.
For instance, Johannes Somary was no longer allowed to be alone with students, and yet he was permitted to stay on and teach until his retirement in 2002. Who made that decision? The current school administration refuses to shed any light on the matter.
4. It happened so long ago. Why bother disturbing current students with these atrocities from the past?
We don’t believe Horace Mann can ever regain its reputation as the premier college preparatory school in the United States until it comes clean and fully addresses what happened and why. Other institutions are carefully watching how HM handles this situation; indeed, we are role models for the nation.
And precisely because these were abominations perpetrated on children, they should be understood just like any other atrocity. We were all trained at Horace Mann to not run from the truth. That is a lesson current students will surely come to appreciate.
Also, it wasn’t that long ago! One perpetrator left Horace Mann as late as 2008. And we believe there are current board members who may have actively participated in the coverup.
5. Why hasn’t the school shared these facts with alumni and parents?
For all the obvious reasons. The school appears to be terrified of bad publicity and a string of lawsuits. At a recent Alumni Council meeting––where Headmaster Kelly and Board Chair, Steve Friedman, spoke about the scandal for the first time–– concerned alumni were not even allowed to attend! When we asked Tom Kelly if we could set up a booth at Homecoming to tell alums what happened, we were told no. We find that appalling.
One thing we’ve all learned from the scandals involving Penn State and the Catholic Church is that the coverup can be just as damaging to an institution’s reputation as the crime. Indeed, administrators who protect child molesters are now being rooted out and slapped with felonies. We don't want to see that happen to HM.
6. Was HM aware of the Times article before it was published?
Yes. Well aware. Amos Kamil ’82 made dozens of attempts to discuss HM’s history of abuse with Tom Kelly and with current and former board members. Indeed, Mr. Kamil sent written questions to Dr. Kelly by certified mail on January 27th which the School and the Board ignored.
7. What can we do to help?
First, let Tom Kelley and Steve Friedman know of your profound concern about how they have chosen to handle the situation. You can stay abreast of what is going on by following us here at www.hmaction.org where you can sign up for our newsletter and pitch in to help.
8. Do you accept donations?
Yes. We are a not-forprofit organization incorporated in the State of New York. Our official name and address is:
Horace Mann ActionCoalition Support Fund, Inc.
273 Baltic St
Brooklyn, NY 11201