NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Horace Mann, one of the most elite private schools in New York City, is under fire Wednesday after an article published online accuses the school of a secret history of sex abuse by faculty.
WCBS 880’s Pat Farnack With NYT’s Amos Kamil
“I think I was shocked at how many people came forward,” author Amos Kamil told CBS 2’s Chris Wragge.
Kamil said he first heard about the abuse years after he graduated from Horace Mann, when a fellow alum made a startling confession.
“One of my close friends said ‘I was raped by a teacher,'” Kamil said.
However, Kamil said he didn’t decide to write about it until the sex abuse scandal at Penn State and the attention it garnered touched a nerve.
“I reached out to my friend who told me about this. I said ‘how are you doing?’ He said ‘I’m not doing well. I wish someone would write about it,'” Kamil said.
In the article, which will appear in this weekend’s print edition of the New York Times Magazine, several students who went to the school in the 1970s allege that they were sexually assaulted or groped by various members of the faculty, including then-football coach and art teacher Mark Wright.
The article also names Stan Kops, who committed suicide, suggesting that he left Horace Mann’s faculty amid suspicion of sexual impropriety with the students. The article says a student named Benjamin Balter committed suicide years after accusing Horace Mann’s music teacher Johannes Somary of “grossly inappropriate sexual advances.” Another former student interviewed for the article said he was abused by Somary for years.
CBS News “48 Hours” producer and alumni Josh Gelman told Wragge he was never abused, but witnessed firsthand inappropriate behavior.
“We all knew there were certain teachers who had a reputation for being more hands-on with students, little more personal with students than most were comfortable with,” Gelman said.
One student in the article recalled an encounter with a teacher, telling Kamil, “I remember exactly what he said — that he needed to see the connection between my legs.”
Kamil said sometimes the school got rid of the alleged abuser, sometimes not.
“There was one teacher who taught there from 1959 to 2002 and there were rumors about him in the ’60s,” Kamil told Wragge.
Over the years, there were both teacher and student suicides and lives ruined, according to Kamil said.
“I have been running from this thing most of my life,” one Horace Mann alum told Kamil.
Kamil said he is now looking forward and hopes Horace Mann will seize the opportunity to help other children.
“I think this is a chance to take a leadership position on a subject matter that is epidemic in our society … Horace Mann has a chance to lead,” Kamil said.
On the school’s website, the administration has posted a lengthy response to the article. “These allegations are highly disturbing and absolutely abhorrent,” says the statement. “We share and appreciate our community’s frustration when the school cannot address specific allegations in the article. As we hope you can appreciate, we are not in a position to comment on accounts of events and conversations that took place prior to our administration. It should be noted that Horace Mann School has terminated teachers based on its determination of inappropriate conduct, including but not limited to certain of the individuals named in the New York Times article.”
The school reportedly said “Horace Mann School today has in place clearly articulated and enforced rules, regulations, policies, procedures and expectation concerning appropriate behavior within the community – including whistle-blower protections to ensure that any member of the school community can freely report alleged violations.”
Kamil told Wragge the response to this story may not achieve the same national exposure as the Penn State scandal, but like Penn State, other cases are already coming forward and he expects that number to increase. He said this was not an isolated incident.
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