close window


NY DAILY NEWS: HM BIG RETIRES, RIPS SEX SCANDAL

posted by HM Action at 2015-03-14 09:14:00

Horace Mann School big retires, rips sex scandal in student newspaper interview

BY
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, March 14, 2015, 1:58 AM

Steven Friedman announced he was stepping down after nine years as board chair, but he also delivered a final blow to the victims of the school's decades-old sex abuse scandal.


Horace Mann head trustee Steven Friedman announced his retirement Friday — but not without a final blow to the victims of a decades-old sex abuse scandal.

The hedge fund honcho issued an upbeat letter saying it was time to step down after nine years as board chair of the elite Bronx prep school.

“It has been exhilarating and at times challenging,” he said, without mentioning the recent painful settlement talks with former students who were sexually abused by past staffers for decades.

But in an interview Friday with the Horace Mann Record, a student newspaper, Friedman had more to say.

He spoke of the difficulties of helping the alumni who suffered abuse but didn’t immediately report it — a statement sure to anger the many Horace Mann victims who say their complaints as students were brushed aside by administrators trying to protect the elite academy.

Friedman told the paper he’d worked hard to heal the relationships with abuse victims who later reported their accounts to the school.

“Trying to get a resolution to the best of our ability and to be as fair as possible to the number of people that we had to deal with was very hard. We did it methodically, slowly, but it took an enormous amount of time,” Friedman told the Record.

The outbreak and complications of the abuse scandal presented a range of difficult issues the board, he added.

The trustee’s words were salt in the wound to Peter Brooks of the Horace Mann Action Coalition, an alumni group formed to support abuse survivors.

“That’s pretending there weren’t dozens and dozens of timely reports that were completely ignored over the years. I’m still trying to digest whatever ownership is connected to this,” Brooks told the Daily News.

“Having said that, the Horace Mann Action Coalition invites the new board chairman to meet with alumni and work toward a better resolution, and we look forward to some real leadership,” he noted.

Friedman chose real estate mogul and current board member Michael Colacino to take his place as board chair.

The alumni coalition has tried to have an independent investigator probe Horace Mann’s records in the hopes more information about what was known and when will come to light.

But under Friedman’s tenure, the school has refused to fully cooperate with former state judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, who is handling the probe.

Snyder said she wasn’t permitted to interview principal Thomas Kelly or Friedman.

Horace Mann is estimated to have paid out nearly $5 million in legal settlements to former students who were sexually abused over decades at the expensive private school.

More than 30 former students came forward with claims — but the true number could be even higher, according to the victims.
 

Horace Mann is also embroiled in a legal fight with its insurance companies. The school filed the suit against its carriers after they failed to pay the costs of its settlements.

The insurance firms have argued that they don’t have to cover those damages if the school knew about the sex abuse but covered it up.

In a court hearing last March, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos repeatedly asked why Horace Mann officials waited 25 years to notify its carriers, who are subsidiaries of AIG, about a student allegation in 1993 that a music teacher had sexually abused him.

When Ramos, a 1959 graduate of Horace Mann, asked the school’s lawyer, Howard Epstein, if trustees had been notified of the student’s letter, Epstein initially said “there was no evidence of that.”

Later, when Ramos noticed in court papers that trustees had been aware, Epstein replied: “Well, some trustees.”

“One will do,” Ramos replied.

Epstein insisted it didn’t have to be reported in 1993 because it was just an allegation, not a formal complaint.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/horace-mann-big-retires-rips-sex-scandal-article-1.2149055

 



posted at: 2015-03-14 09:14:00, last updated: 2015-03-14 09:17:33



blog comments powered by Disqus