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Horace Mann Sex Abuse Probe Blasts School, Finds Dozens of Victims

A group of Horace Mann alumni hired a former judge to investigate the abuse scandal.
Trees bloom outside the Horace Mann School in the Bronx in 2013.
Trees bloom outside the Horace Mann School in the Bronx in 2013.Mark Lennihan / AP file

A probe commissioned by a group of alumni at New York's elite Horace Mann School has found that more than 64 students were sexually abused by nearly two dozen faculty and staff between the 1960s and the 1990s — far more than an investigation by the district attorney identified.

The investigation, led by former judge and sex-crime prosecutor Leslie Crocker Snyder, said the abusers at the leafy campus in the Bronx included both men and women — and students were sometimes molested by more than one staffer. Although most of the victims were boys, the investigation identified several new female victims.

Snyder excoriated Horace Mann — where tuition tops $43,000 — for its handling of the abuse claims, both before they became public and after the scandal was blown open by a story in the New York Times Magazine in 2012, written by a former student.

"Between 1962 and 1996, more than 20 reports of sexual abuse were made by victims, their parents, teachers or witnesses to Horace Mann’s teachers, administrators or trustees. Incidents were reported across administrations and across decades," the report says. "None of the reports was forwarded to law enforcement. In addition, [the] investigation does not indicate that the school ever shared a victim’s report with the victims’ parents. In most cases, the abusers were allowed to stay at the school for years or decades after the first incident was reported."

Horace Mann — which counts Beat writer Jack Kerouac and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer among its alumni — declined to participate in the investigation.

In a statement, the school said it would read the report "and make any appropriate adjustments in our child safety policies that it has to offer" but also said its current policies already "ensure a safe and secure environment."

The school — which settled one lawsuit for millions of dollars and struck smaller settlements with other survivors through mediation — also encouraged any new victims to contact the Bronx DA's office.

In New York, however, the statute of limitations is five years for civil cases and either two or five years for all but the most severe criminal offenses once the victim turns 18. One of the key recommendations in Snyder's report is reform of those limits.

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Trees bloom outside the Horace Mann School in the Bronx in 2013.Mark Lennihan / AP file