close window

4 Years. 4 Decades

4 Years.  4 Decades.
by Peter Brooks

On June 6th, 2012, most of us learned of an awful prospect. Some knew much earlier. It turned out as it unfolded over these last four years to be so much worse than I could ever have imagined. Now we know more and hurt more - both about the past and what we expect for the present. What can we do, all of us?

A schoolmate I respect said to me "It takes time." Yes, healing does. Can we help or must we simply wait? What do we understand, as a community? Beyond the past, what do we understand about where we are now?

Bad things happened. People were grievously hurt. Injury went on a long while. Now we are divided. Will that change? The school says talking of this hurts current students. Do they mean talking about the past or about what we do now? And if understanding is what we need to heal and/or join together, what then? The alumni say NOT talking hurts us all, and especially the unspoken victims alone with shame, silence and fear, watching what we do.

Investigate? Some people point at what has been made public in the press or by alumni and say "It's all known." No, it is not. What we know has come from the courage of survivors, teachers and a few. Mostly from victims. How does the school see its own actions? What do we understand of that?

How would it help, to hear how the school sees what was wrong - not who? What allowed it, not who may have failed - what failed? For me, it is the recognition of flaws which were the obstacles - obstacles we now know were and are common in private schools and institutions, not just at HM. Not to blame or excuse. Investigating the past, acknowledging mistakes should be LESS scary because it is not about judging, it is about caring and learning.

Talking and listening together will help: So that survivors can believe and trust that no others will be harmed. So that alumni (and future alumni) can trust the leaders at HM. So that we can make a place to rejoin and be worth rejoining. Beyond policy and beyond procedures, does the admin now see how timely reports were received and mishandled? Do they now see the impact and consequence? What do they feel? What would they like to see, going forward?

If so, what balance has been struck when reputation is pitted against safety? Even beyond abuse per se, for drugs, or cheating or bullying or other events? What are the lessons truly learned?

I've chosen to work to define and show some of the lessons with the hope it helps all schools and institutions to limit or prevent student sexual abuse. Even if HM cannot say much, no one should ever go through what happened again in order to learn, protect and change. No children should suffer through four decades and then some nor should a school need a four year Tasering in order to take action. Let this fifth year be time enough.

I call on the HM board and administration, Michael Colacino and Tom Kelly, to join with alumni to meet.
There is a path to heal. One step at a time. First, have the board of trustees sit down with survivors, and families of those who didn't survive. In private, to listen, understand and consider. Second, with alumni, students, teachers and parents. Even before or apart from any investigation, say what you understand now - from what you have read, from records, from ex-admins, teachers, and witnesses. Say the how and why, as best as you can see it. To believe and trust requires understanding. To entomb it all is fatal.

While I have many questions, one fact I know for certain: there is no closure without disclosure. For everyone. Without hearing from the school administration, what defines HM is these 4 years as much or more than those 4 decades, the silence more than the archive.

The vigil in 2012 while Mr. Friedman explained why the school wouldn't investigate.

Alumni meeting at Poet's house, nearby class reunions 4 letters to the board from the Survivors without any replies.

The sadness in mediation; offering victim accounts as a "report"; obtaining releases in private from survivors for any litigation against living abusers.

Each year since, homecoming reflected in peculiar tone-deaf ways: 2013, cocktails hosted by Hess, retracted; 2014, invite to Clark field then an apology; 2015, renaming the field without survivors or alumni, retracted article in the Record.

2014, In court vs. AIG, HM lawyers at first deny the Balter letter, then that trustees ever met to discuss it, then say only some trustees attended. The judge notes “one is enough.”

2015, Mr. Friedman resigns, notes "a few bumps in the road," refers to victims reporting abuse “later” to avoid dealing with the many timely reports the school received, adding that he “didn’t really sign up for the challenges” that sprang from the revelations of abuse.

2015, "Great is the Truth" is published. Despite HM maintaining a special library section for all alumni books, Amos Kamil's book is not on the shelf.

2016: The Globe Spotlight team turns to examine independent schools; 14 former teachers urge the school to provide a path to healing, receive no reply; the NY Governor supports SOL reform in Albany.

Is the legacy to be that what the public knows about the school's present are the ways the institution is choosing not to respond to its past?

There is a path to heal. Nothing that has happened in the past should be feared and however awkward and however painful discussing sexual abuse can be, discussing it can only help us and certainly cannot hurt us. Can we be strong enough to say “this scares me” or “this angers me” and never so weak as to suggest that silence would be better?

SNAP: How to React When Abuse Reports Surface

Jun 01, 2015 | Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Guest Blog: SNAP Update, How to React When Abuse Reports Surface

It’s a bit lonely – and unsettling – when it seems like you’re the only one pushing for a particular idea.

That’s how we in SNAP feel about a specific type of training that we’ve long advocated. We’re convinced it could really help prevent child sex crimes and cover ups in institutional settings.

Some institutional officials train their staff in how to RECOGNIZE possible signs of abuse. That’s great.

Some institutional officials train their staff in how to REPORT possible signs of abuse. That’s great too.

Other institutional officials train their members – especially kids – in how to RESIST abuse. And that’s great as well.

But as best we can tell, no institution – no school, church, summer camp, athletic league or day care center – trains staff and members in how to REACT when abuse reports surface.

So often, those staff and members make hurtful comments, in private or in public.

And as a result, often victims, witnesses and whistleblowers whose information could make criminal prosecution begin or succeed are so scared or depressed that they stay silent instead of speaking up. Rather than encouraging and welcoming messages being sent to those with knowledge or suspicions of child sex crimes, very chilling and depressing messages get sent instead.

We’re not talking here about how the institutional hierarchy should react, but how the institution’s rank-and-file members and supporters should act. Because while it’s important that the few at the top act properly, it’s just as important for the many at the bottom to act properly.

Almost every day, we see some popular or powerful adult accused of victimizing a child. And we see some colleague or neighbor of that alleged predator defending him or her. Often, the defense of the accused involves an attack on the accuser.

That has an incredibly chilling effect on those who could make a real difference in the case.

Sometimes, the colleagues or neighbors are more benign. Over last weekend, for example, politicians of all stripes (most notably Illinois Senator Mark Kirk) told of their “shock” that ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert might have molested a child or two during his teaching and coaching career. “Our hearts go out to Hastert’s family” was a common refrain. But few, if any, voiced any concern for Hastert’s alleged victims.

More often, however, some adults’ comments in abuse cases are downright hateful and hurtful.

–In Richmond Virginia, Rev. Geronimo Aguilar faced seven felony child sex abuse involving two girls. Yet his flock blasted his accusers and six fellow ministers agreed to preach with him in public.

–In Joliet Illinois, Fr. Richard Ross told a newspaper “I don’t have much sympathy for people who somehow couldn’t stop whatever happened. I’ll take all of these people who were abused and I’ll abuse them myself with a baseball bat. You can quote me on that.”

(Ross was upset because his brother, Fr. Anthony J. Ross, had been suspended from his Santa Rosa California parish because of abuse reports. Ironically, Fr. Richard Ross now pastors St. Bernard’s Catholic church in Joliet, about 30 minutes away from Denny Hastert’s hometown.)

Sometimes, an accused offender’s supporters go far beyond hurtful words. They hold fundraisers and rallies and set up blogs and legal defense funds for alleged child molesters.

–In the Springfield Illinois diocese, parishioners of a permanently suspended, credibly accused child molesting priest are buying him a house. They’ve put up yellow ribbons around town showing their love of Fr. Robert “Bud” DeGrand. The local bishop, Thomas Paprocki, is paying for the alleged predator’s lawyers. (This is the same Paprocki who made national headlines for claiming that clergy sex abuse lawsuits are “the work of Satan.”)

(In such an oppressive, unwelcoming climate, is it a surprise to anyone that no other victim of Fr. DeGrand has stepped forward?)

—A Texas jury found football player Greg Kelley guilty of molesting a four year old boy. Yet even after that, his fans and friends organized rallies and fundraising events for him.

But misguided backers don’t just rally around predators. They sometimes rally around “enablers” too, even proven ones.

–In Kansas City Missouri, even after Bishop Robert Finn was convicted of withholding evidence of child sex crimes from police, some of his flock publicly defended him. And even after he finally resigned, top Catholic officials in Rome and Washington DC gave him permission to lead two ordination ceremonies.

–And even though Penn State coach Joe Paterno said he wished he’d done more about Jerry Sandusky’s crimes, football fans plan to erect a new statue in Paterno’s honor and a politician proposes naming a bridge after him.

So let’s play this out, in Technicolor detail. Imagine you’re a 13-year-old boy who’s being molested by his coach or a 12 year old girl who’s being molested by her uncle. In each case, the predator tells the child “If you speak up, no one will listen or believe you. I’m a popular person around here. Everyone will think you’re lying or crazy.”

Then, that boy or girl sees news accounts or overhears watercooler conversations about an unrelated abuse case involving a cleric or teacher. That child sees, with dismay, that other trusted adults (maybe even their own parents) are vigorously backing the accused predator.

Imagine how that boy or girl will feel. It’s very unlikely that this boy or girl will be brave enough to call the police or tell their parents about their own suffering.

So what to do if you think your co-worker or cousin or cleric or coach may have been falsely accused? Support him or her privately, not publicly. Send the accused cookies or cards. Visit or pray for him or her. But don’t tell a TV reporter “This is a shake-down by a greedy liar!” Don’t stand up at the school board meeting and declare “I hope Coach Smith sues this kid and his parents for slander!”

Fundamentally, it’s very simple: we can make it harder or easier for child sex abuse victims to report abusers. All it takes is a little bit of sensitivity and self-restraint.

And institutions where abuse happens can remind us of this, train us to do this, insist we do this and even punish us when we don’t.


—Barbara Dorris of St. Louis is the Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. She can be reached at or 314 503 0003.


Kevin Mulhearn: Horace Mann report shows why New York state needs to reform statute of limitations in sex abuse cases
BY MICHAEL O'KEEFFE    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 3:46 PM

RIVERDALE PRESS: Klein Clarifies Stance on Abuse Act

To the editor:
I am writing to dispute and clarify the troublesome accusations made about me in last week’s front page article, “Child abuse victims stung by Albany inaction.”

Seiger Abuse Reveals HM Headmaster and Pedophiles In Collusion

June 19, 2014
Here is the post I have promised for the last few days.
I would like to start by thanking the many kind and caring people who have responded to my earlier post, both here and in private, about my experience that first night with Mr. Clark and Mr. Kops. Your support and kindness goes a long way to help make the pain and memories manageable.

Goto Page:   1   2   3