The elite Bronx institution issued a mea culpa on its website Friday, offering an apology ‘for the harm that was caused by teachers and administrators who abused anyone during their years at Horace Mann.’ Some victims, however, slammed the apology as too little too late.
Top officials at Horace Mann School apologized for the first time Friday to former students who were sexually abused by teachers over the past five decades.
But the school refused to launch an independent investigation of the abuse, prompting outrage from victims who requested one.
The mea culpa was issued on the website of the elite Bronx institution Friday afternoon, the start of the Memorial Day weekend, by board of trustees chairman Steven Friedman and head of school Thomas Kelly.
Attorney Gloria Allred holds a press conference with clients who claim they were sexually molested when they were students at Horace Mann School.
“We sincerely apologize for the harm that was caused by the teachers and administrators who abused anyone during their years at Horace Mann School,” Friedman and Kelly said in in a letter.
“These unconscionable betrayals of trust never should have happened,” the officials wrote. “But they did, and now we, as a school, must fully accept this reality.” The letter revealed that undisclosed settlements have been reached with 31 of the victims, who were abused 17 to 51 years ago.
Friedman and Kelly also said the positions of trustee emeritus will be eliminated by June 30, meaning trustees on the board at the time of the coverup are being booted.
JOE TABACCA FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Alleged abuse survivor Jon Seiger sits next to a childhood photo.
The school vowed to create an advisory board on student safety to review policies and training on sexual abuse and how to prevent it. The advisory group would include at least one survivor of sexual abuse at the school and representative of the Bronx District Attorney’s office.
But victims said the atonement was long overdue and failed to address why administrators covered up the abuse, ignored complaints and intimidated victims for coming forward.
“Where in the letter do they acknowledge any role on the part of the school?” asked Peter Brooks of the Horace Mann Action Coalition, a group formed by alumni to support abuse victims.
GRAHAM MORRISON/BLOOMBERG NEWS
Students arrive at the Horace Mann School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.
Brooks said it was a “flat-out lie” for Friedman and Kelly to say in their letter that the school was first confronted by allegations of sexual abuse after The New York Times Magazine reported on it in June 2012.
“It is most naïve to say that we learned about this in June 2012,” Brooks said.
The Horace Man Survivors’ Group issued a statement questioning the sincerity of the school’s apology.
“The school has apologized, but the quality of that apology is undermined if the trustees do not want to know fully the extent and nature of the problem for which the school is apologizing,” the group’s statement reads.
“The school’s letter still uses the word ‘alleged,’ but it does go on to acknowledge unspecified ‘abuse.’”