close window

Allred Response to HM's Misstatements


In reaction to the Horace Mann letter of May 24th, 2013...

"What the school has done - lying to those who trusted them; thumbing their nose at people who bared their soul and saying they would game their most private information to the school's advantage...that is violent. Seriously hateful violence."
-- an HM alumnus

COUNSEL'S 5/30 RESPONSE TO MISSTATEMENTS IN HM 5/24 LETTER:Response to Press Statement Containing False Statements Issued by Horace Mann School On May 24th, 2013

On May 24, 2013, the Horace Mann School in New York City (HM) published a press statement containing false statements in an effort to divert attention from the fact that the School and its administration were rejecting repeated requests by numerous adult survivors of child sexual abuse at Horace Mann that an independent investigation into the abuse and the School’s knowledge of the abuse be conducted.

Nearly a year ago, a number of our 25 clients — all of whom are survivors of childhood sexual abuse at Horace Mann — urged the school to do an independent investigation. On April 22, 2013, a number of survivors of sexual abuse at Horace Mann and we as their lawyers, held a press conference once again to urge Horace Mann to conduct "an immediate, independent and transparent investigation into the worst case of child sexual abuse in an American school in recent history."

Last Friday afternoon (May 24, 2013), Horace Mann publicly announced its response. Horace Mann refused to do an investigation. Instead, Horace Mann stated:

“Finally, the Board of Trustees has accepted the proposal of Commonwealth Mediation that Commonwealth Mediation prepare an independent summary of the reported abuses, without identifying the survivors. The mediators involved have heard from thirty-one alumni/ae who described in painful detail the inexcusable conduct of their teachers and administrators that occurred between seventeen and fifty-one years ago. Given the passage of time, most of the abusers are either dead or mentally infirm; the remainder, we understand, are unwilling to respond to the allegations, and the School does not have the authority to compel these individuals to do so. It is these reports heard by the mediators -- shared privately and in person by survivors -- that provide us the greatest insight into what happened. The Board of Trustees and Head of School have agreed to make the summary report available as soon as practicable.”

The "painful detail" referenced by Horace Mann were victim impact statements made by our clients at the mediation. These statements were enormously difficult and gut-wrenching. They took a high emotional toll on each of our clients many of whom revealed facts that they had kept hidden for decades, even from people who are closest to them. Our clients made those statements in reliance upon express written and oral representations that everyone involved in the mediation process would keep these statements and the facts presented in them confidential. That is not to say that our clients do not want transparency or do not want the school or an investigator to hear of their abuses. To the contrary, they want the facts and details of the abuse to be absorbed and analyzed in a full independent process that includes an examination of school records and interviews of not only abusers but of school board members, administrators and teachers who observed and/or knew of the abuse and either took no action or actively took steps to ensure that the abuses stay hidden.

Notwithstanding this history, Horace Mann announced to the world on Friday afternoon that it would publish a report summarizing our clients' statements. This “summary” is a betrayal. It was not what the survivors had asked for or wanted. It is contrary to the representations and agreements made to and with the survivors.

This summary is also contrary to what the survivors had been told would be considered by the Board of Trustees at Horace Mann.

On March 28th, Paul Finn of Commonwealth Mediation wrote to us, stating: “Tom Kelly has just informed me that the special Board Meeting scheduled for tomorrow, March 29, 2013, has been postponed because not enough Board members could appear in person because of the religious holidays and/or school vacations. Mr. Kelly has informed us that the full Board will meet on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 in New York City. Brian and I plan on attending. On another note Brian and I will not be doing the investigation. We are neutrals and will remain the same. We will ask the Board to conduct an independent investigation as part of our recommendations, but we will not ask the Board to hire us to do that investigation.”

After Horace Mann issued its press release last Friday, we contacted Mr. Finn to find out whether or not Horace Mann's announcement that Commonwealth Mediation, his firm, had agreed to prepare "an independent summary of the reported abuses," that would be based upon what had been "heard by the mediators -- shared privately and in person by survivors" at the mediation. In response to our inquiry Mr. Finn wrote to us on May 27th stating: “We have not been hired to do anything.”

Notably, we have also asked Horace Mann’s lawyers to verify the facts pertaining to Commonwealth’s role going forward insofar as a report was concerned. We have not received any response.

In light of Mr. Finn's response, we believe it is clear that Horace Mann has chosen falsely to state to the world that the mediators would prepare an “independent” report of what they learned at the mediation, knowing that no such report will ever be prepared. We believe this is a callous attempt to deflect attention from the fact that Horace Mann is continuing to refuse to conduct an independent investigation — an investigation which could reveal not only the extent of the abuse but also identify school administrators and board members who knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it or who actively threatened children or their families to keep the reports and abuse hidden.

Horace Mann has attempted to posture itself as caring and compassionate to the survivors but they have only increased the suffering of survivors by publishing a flagrantly false statement. Such institutional deception and ongoing bad faith has served only to exacerbate and reopen the deep anxieties and feelings of those who are the victims and continue to struggle every day to survive the abuse that altered their lives.

Our clients were Horace Mann students. They were sexually abused by Horace Mann teachers at the Horace Mann School. Horace Mann’s refusal to conduct an independent, full, and transparent investigation – including into the School’s own actions and knowledge – and Horace Mann’s actions in putting out a misleading press statement is a cause for further shame. It has aggravated the harm and suffering that these survivors have been forced to endure at the Horace Mann school.

Since Horace Mann’s press statement is on Horace Mann’s website, we would hope that Horace Mann would have the decency to place our response alongside its statement for the Horace Mann community to see as well. Horace Mann should also issue a retraction and an apology to the survivors for the false and misleading statements it has made which has caused them such pain.

Attorney Gloria Allred and Attorney Mariann Wang
May 30, 2013



RIVERDALE PRESS: HM's apology falls short for victims


HM’s apology falls short for victims

By Sarina Trangle
Posted 5/30/13

Horace Mann issued its first public apology to alumni who were sexually abused by school faculty, but victims said the message was disingenuous because the school still refuses to investigate decades of abuse and, therefore, does not know what it is apologizing for.

On May 24, Horace Mann Head of School Thomas Kelly and Board of Trustees Chair Steven Friedman released a statement acknowledging that former teachers and administrators sexually abused students between 1962 and 1996.

“We sincerely apologize for the harm that was caused by the teachers and administrators who abused anyone during their years at Horace Mann School. These unconscionable betrayals of trust never should have happened. But they did, and now we, as a school must fully accept this reality,” the statement read. “Members of the Horace Mann School community who are survivors deserve our gratitude for having the courage to come forward, and our deep appreciation for demanding that Horace Mann School become a model for child abuse prevention and reporting programs. Beyond their pain, generations of alumni/ae have had their memories of Horace Mann School tarnished by these abusers. For this, too, we apologize.”

Some alumni were concerned that people who served as trustees when abuse was reported and did nothing were continuing to serve as trustee emeriti. In the note, Horace Mann announced it would eliminate that position effective June 30.

According to the release, “the great majority” of the 31 alumni that participated in settlement talks brokered by Commonwealth Mediation and Conciliation reached an agreement with the school.

Horace Mann’s letter, which was posted on its website the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, announced plans to create an advisory board on student safety. The board will have seats for at least one abuse survivor, a representative from the Bronx District Attorney’s office, a New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children employee and a representative from Commonwealth Mediation.



A survivor will also be appointed to the Head of School Committee, which was created after Mr. Kelly started at Horace Mann in 2005, to advise trustees and the administration.

The school has asked Commonwealth Mediation to prepare an independent summary of reported abuses, without identifying survivors. 

Abuse victims have waited nearly a year for Horace Mann to respond to their requests that the school acknowledge and apologize for the abuse and commission an independent investigation into the allegations. Alumni began coming forward in numbers after a bombshell exposé on abuse at the school was published in The New York Times Magazine last June. 

More than 35 alumni have accused 22 faculty members of abuse and, according to the Horace Mann Action Coalition, they have detailed at least 18 instances of school staff ignoring reports of abuse. The alumni group formed in the wake of the story and has worked to set up a network of mental health professionals willing to voluntarily counsel victims and members have funded an independent investigation by Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder. Ms. Snyder said the school has refused to cooperate with her team. 

In a written response to the apology, abuse victims announced that they planned to participate in Ms. Snyder’s investigation because the school has left them with no other option.

Joseph Cumming, a 1977 alumnus who often speaks on behalf of survivors, said he disagreed with the school’s suggestion that the Bronx DA’s review of the abuse was sufficient because most abusers are dead, mentally infirm or unwilling to discuss the matter. 

At least three abusers have been confronted by police, two have spoken with the media and two others have not been publicly accused, Mr. Cumming said. The DA’s inquiry focused on whether any crimes were prosecutable under the statue of limitations, which bars victims of childhood sexual abuse from beginning civil or criminal cases after they turn 23.



“It’s like saying we have a termite problem in our house so we will put on mosquito repellent. Putting on mosquito repellent is a good thing to do, but it’s not going to resolve the termite problem,” said Mr. Cumming, a pastor for the International Church at Yale. “We want to know the truth — who knew what when and what was or was not done.”

Mr. Cumming and other abuse victims have said the investigation would help them heal and would signify to current students that if faculty behaves inappropriately, students can expect the school to take their reports seriously.

Mr. Cumming said the survivors believe at least one trustee emeriti advocated on behalf of victims and, therefore, stripping all trustee emeriti of their position is inappropriate.

The school’s proposal to release a summary of statements survivors gave during mediation talks concerned some victims. They said they abided by a confidentiality agreement barring them from discussing the mediation process and felt betrayed that the school planned to breach this agreement by releasing their stories without airing any of its actions.

The survivors’ letter noted that Horace Mann has become a case study for a social-science research into institutional betrayal of victims of sexual abuse.

Jennifer Freyd, a University of Oregon psychology professor, said she and a doctoral student sent surveys to Horace Mann abuse victims this spring and plan to use them to begin tracking their wellbeing.

She said her research into institutional betrayal — when large organizations such as the military or schools do not respond properly to allegations of abuse — can exacerbate mental health problems for victims. Engaging in a thorough process of self-reflection in a transparent manner can help victims, Ms. Freyd said.

“It is important to get the message to institutions that it is not enough to prevent these thing as much as possible,” she said. “Sometimes the response to reports of sexual assaults or abuse is just as painful as the actual assault.”

Some survivors said the school’s response made them feel worse.

“Imagine that the Freeh Report consisted of the complaint of the kid in the shower and that was it. And Penn State never opened up its books or allowed testimony,” said one survivor, who asked to remain anonymous. “See Horace Mann doesn’t want anybody to know that McQueary went to Paterno who went to Spanier. They want the world to think that the end of this story is the little boy in the shower without any adults’ enabling of the repeated abuse. And that’s not the whole story.”

http://riverdalepress.com/stories/HMs-apology-falls-short-for-victims,52545?page=1&

 

 
 
 
 




Greg Bucceroni Comment on HoraceMannSurvivor.org


Greg Bucceroni comment just posted on HoraceMannSurvivor.org:
Back between the years 1977-1980 myself and other troubled adolescent runaways often traveled between New York City, Atlantic City and Philadelphia involving ourselves in a variety of youth related crimes and delinquency concerns including child sex trafficking and child pornography as adolescent victims.



NY DAILY NEWS: Top Horace Mann Officials Apologize to Abuse Victims for the First Time


Top Horace Mann officials apologize to abuse victims for the first time  
The elite Bronx institution issued a mea culpa on its website Friday,
offering an apology 'for the harm that was caused by teachers and



WALL STREET JOURNAL: Horace Mann Apologizes for Abuse


Horace Mann Apologizes for Abuse
By LISA FLEISHER
Top Horace Mann officials acknowledged decades of sexual abuse at the exclusive private school for the first time on Friday, apologizing for "unconscionable betrayals of trust" but stopping short of authorizing an independent investigation.



Goto Page:   1   2   3   4   5