It was a warm Friday afternoon when a Horace Mann student put on his backpack, left school, walked across the street, and entered a Tudor-style house on Tibbett Avenue in the tree-lined section of Riverdale.
The student was surprised to be greeted by two smiling men who didn’t offer him a Coke, but real alcohol.
Flattered that he was included in such a grown up activity, and naive to their motives, the child accepted. Later, all three got into a car and drove into the city, supposedly for something to eat.
Instead, they stopped at a bar and ordered drinks. While the boy was becoming increasingly intoxicated, one of the men went off to hire two male prostitutes whose job would be to return to the house on Tibbett Avenue and rape the child in front of the men. Then, after the boy was sodomized, the two men would join in on the assault.
We now know that one of the men was the Headmaster and President of the Horace Mann School from 1970 to 1991, R. Inslee Clark, Jr.. The other man was Clark's lover, Stanley Kops, a Horace Mann history teacher, and swim coach.
The year was 1975.
The student was 14-years-old at the time.
Sadly, the child's story was not an isolated event. Recently, collective recollection has uncovered more than 50 alleged incidents of abuse by more than 16 abusers with more than 30 victims at The Horace Mann School in Riverdale, New York. Alleged abusers include high-ranking HM administrators and some of the most highly regarded members of the faculty.
An English Teacher who would assign students extra homework, and if the student did not meet his high standards, he would demand sex as punishment. (A psychopath, he even boasted how many of his students committed suicide.)
A Music Teacher who assaulted his student musicians in hotel rooms on glee club trips around the world, leaving behind a wake of victims over his thirty year tenure as Head of the Art Department.
A Football Coach who performed numerous, humiliating “physical exams” on his athletes.
The School Chaplain who would invite students to his home and then ask them to spend the night in his bed.
Another English Teacher who invited several of his students to get high in his home before he raped them in his basement.
More concerning, in many instances Horace Mann School administrators were made aware of the allegations and did nothing to prevent or investigate the abuse.
Time and again, over three decades HM officials appear to have put the reputation of the school before the welfare of the children, in several instances with horrifying consequences.
We know of two students who committed suicide –– one after writing a letter to the Headmaster, Philip Foote––pleading for relief from the repeated predation of the Head of the Art Department.
How could this have happened?
How could one of the most prestigious college preparatory schools in the country allow so many perpetrators to assault so many children over so many years?
And why is the school today refusing to apologize to the victims and refusing to make a serious effort to learn what happened and share with alumni and parents the facts?
After Penn State ... after the Catholic Church ... after the Boy Scouts ... we would hope that Horace Mann would realize the best way to handle a crisis like this is to get all the information out at once.
Instead, school officials picked up the football and ran in exactly the opposite direction. The school has indicated that it will not cooperate with, let alone initiate, an independent investigation.
Indeed, Board administrators have chosen to release corporate squid ink to mask, rather than reveal the full depth of the depravity. As a result, there is a serious information gap between what we know, and what most parents, alumni, and faculty know –– which is why we are writing to you today.
We welcome your support.
This is not an easy subject and we greatly appreciate the time and attention you are able to give us.
We have been advised by individuals familiar with sex abuse at educational institutions that an extensive investigation can and should be conducted even absent the school’s cooperation.
If you would like to do more ... know more ... help more ... you can find a library of information on our website -- www.hmaction.org.
Our petition on change.org is the place to go if you wish to share your concern with HM officials about how the school is handling the situation.
And if you'd like to support our efforts with a donation, we are now registered as a non-profit and can accept your contribution here.
Horace Mann Action Coalition
P.S. NBC recently fictionalized the Horace Mann Sex Scandal in an episode of Law and Order/SVU titled, "Lessons Learned."
You can download it on iTunes here.
"How could one of the most prestigious college preparatory schools in the country allow so many perpetrators to assault so many children over so many years?"