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Horace Mann, the elite prep school in a leafy Bronx enclave is the focus of an upcoming story in the New York Times Magazine this coming Sunday.


Sex abuse was reportedly covered up at the elite private school Horace Mann — whose alums include Eliot Spitzer and James Murdoch, according to a shocking new report.

In a story out Sunday, The New York Times Magazine reports that the $37,275-a-year Riverdale school never told authorities about alleged incidents of molestation involving teachers and coaches between 1978 and 1994.

Other alumni include NY Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and Pulitzer Prize winning historian Robert Caro.

The story was written by Amos Kamil, an alumnus of the school and is based on conversations with one hundred people invovled with the school - including 60 former students, and current and former faculty members.

The school did nothing about the attacks at the time. (This link contains somewhat graphic detail).

The article, written by '82 Horace Mann graduate Amos Kamil, investigates many of the sad tales of alleged abuse between 1978 and 1994, three of the alleged abusers, and how a series of administrators, trustees, teachers, and students allowed it to go on for so long

In the case of Wright and Kops, when students spoke up about inappropriate incidents, the school got the teachers to quietly resign. Somary, for whatever reason, was allowed to stay on until retirement in 2002, at age 67, even after a student, Ben Balter, came forward with abuse allegations in 1994. When confronted by Balter's mother, Somary protested that Ben kissed him first; and when the mother yelled "[redacted]" she says he replied: "That's how we Swiss kiss." The school did prohibit Somary from taking students on trips unaccompanied after that, however. Ben Balter, apparently haunted by the abuse, killed himself in 2009.

The article names the three teachers involved and published their pictures. All three are now deceased, one having committed suicide.

The school's website has a link to a letter to students and parents discussing the upcoming article and assures them those individuals are no longer at the school.

The article focuses on allegations of inappropriate behavior toward students at Horace Mann School a number of years back by former and, in some cases, now-deceased faculty members. These allegations are highly disturbing and absolutely abhorrent. We can assure you that none of the individuals mentioned in the article is currently employed by the School nor have they been for a number of years.
The author talks about the lesson that can be learned from this
"The story is worth reading in all of its horrifying detail," says Joe Coscarelli at New York, and tries to answer a larger question: In the wake of the sex abuse scandals at Penn State, in the Boy Scouts, and the Catholic Church, Kamil says, "how does an institutional culture arise to condone, or at least ignore, something that, individually, every member knows is wrong?" He comes up with several reasons why people might look the other way, or feel they can't do anything, but doesn't come away with a satisfying overarching explanation

Originally posted to Barefoothoofcare on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 12:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by New York City and House of LIGHTS.

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Comment Preferences

  •  More and more of this will come out (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, live2learn, luckylizard, lcj98, Avilyn

    There seems to have been a point - I would assume before things changed - that peaked during the 60's, 70's and 80's where abuse in any kind of institution was rampant.

    The Catholic Church for its numerous failings in this department is a useful whipping boy - but I would bet everything that we've only hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to child sex abuse across all organizations both private and government. Churches, schools both public and private, youth organizations etc

    I think the only saving grace is that we're much better at rooting it out or stopping it before it begins now than we were several decades ago based on when the majority of instances happened.

    Power-Worshipping Fascist

    by campionrules on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 12:23:40 PM PDT

  •  thanks good tip i will look for follow up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  eXtina - just a nit (0+ / 0-)

    You have a quote that something was written 1982 that discussed events from 1978 and 1994. One or more of those dates can't be correct.  

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 01:23:12 PM PDT

    •  Huh? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He graduated in 1982. the incidents happened between 1978 and 1994. He talked to 100 students. Do you know how to read?

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 01:28:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My mistake (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina, jayden

        Reading too quickly.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 01:34:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No need to be rude. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kishik, eXtina

        I had to reread that sentence twice because I misread it the first time as well.

        Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

        by jayden on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 03:53:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  vclib has a habit of trolling me in (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          all my diaries. That's what happens after the 1000'th time

          "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

          by eXtina on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 04:38:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agree.... but I had to reread it a second time as (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            well.  I wondered why you would highlight an article from 1982 and then realized you were calling that person a 1982 graduate.  Suggest you use the more typical alumni identification and call him an '82 graduate, given that you have the year range for events right next to the graduation identity.  That would be much clearer.

            btw here is another nit: the word you want is "alumni" not "alumnae."  The latter refers to a group of female graduates of a school, the former is used for male (and, by sexist Latinate gender rules, for mixed groups as well).

            In capitalist America, bank robs you!

            by madhaus on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 04:51:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The sentence that says 1982 graduate is (0+ / 0-)

              a quote from another story, I won't change someone else's writing. I'm sorry it's confusing.
              Thanks for the tip about the alumni.

              "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

              by eXtina on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 05:01:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There is an excellent way to correct a problem (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                with someone else's unclear writing that you're quoting.  You use brackets to rephrase the unclear portion.  In that case you would write it like this:

                The article, written by ... Horace Mann graduate Amos Kamil ['82], investigates many of the sad tales of alleged abuse between 1978 and 1994, three of the alleged abusers, and how a series of administrators, trustees, teachers, and students allowed it to go on for so long.

                I often use the brackets to add things that aren't clear by quoting one sentence or graf, like adding in first names or people's job titles, but you can also swap things in for clunkier phrasings.  And the ellipsis shows that something's been removed, in this case just 1982.

                But in checking the quote, I see you changed it to '82 anyway.  And thank you for "fixing" the alumnae/alumni usage issue.  :)

                In capitalist America, bank robs you!

                by madhaus on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 11:31:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped, Rec'd, & Republished (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, kishik, sallystrutt

    to House of LIGHTS.  It is important to expose these past incidents and keep the conversation going.  The more awareness we raise, the more lives are saved. Thank you.

    "The governor and journalist exhange a judas kiss/and now before the song is done, the plot begins to twist"

    by Avilyn on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 02:09:22 PM PDT

  •  I'm glad I saw this - I was just writing a post (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, kishik, eXtina, sallystrutt, aravir

    about it.  Thank you for bringing it to DKos.  Tipped and rec'd -

    "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

    by Roxine on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 03:32:12 PM PDT

  •  Which is why .... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kishik, eXtina, Roxine, sallystrutt

    we, as parents, need to ask our kids a lot of questions, even if we, as parents, may not want to hear the answers.

    I know that child abuse has happened probably for centuries -- along with spousal abuse -- but children aren't even taught the words for 'things' that happen.

    I honestly don't think that I've ever run across the phenomenon in my life, except in the news. But when I learn of it I am always horrified. I wonder how adults can live with themsleves -- or even tell themselves that's it's OK to do this to a child?

  •  Amos Kamil is a friend of a dear friend of mine (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sallystrutt, eXtina

    I was stuck while reading this article yesterday that the sexual abuse history chronicled has an eerie similarity to the college I went to adjacent to this prep school at an overlapping time. I should stress that my college was not affiliated. Mine was a Christian Brothers college. "Christian Brothers" is, perhaps for some because of their not so stellar history, a "codeword" for "illicit sexual relations with young men. Based on my experience at that time, the "codeword believers" would be right.  I do not speak for their longer history or their contemporaries at other institutions.

    My college had eerily similar boundary issues with its professors, mostly priests or brothers affiliated with the Christian Brothers.  

    While none of their transgressions were illegal, per se, there was rampant abuse of power to gain sexual access to young men and women. Much of the abuse of power was done with minors or just over-the-age-of-minors who were under the influence of alcohol pot or cocaine given liberally to young teenage students by their professors. Insidious mind games that evoked the Pope and the teachings of the Church were played out under those circumstances.  

    The last sentence might be hilarious to most Kossacks and  now seems damned humorous to me a my remove to me. But I remember how they played to late adolescent children of devout Catholic families of that era and I'm aware that similar mind games ar easily accomplished with other sexually naive youth.

    "Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry."

    by Glinda on Thu Jun 07, 2012 at 10:26:14 PM PDT

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