Fourth Survivors’ Letter

We are a group of more than thirty[1] survivors of sexual abuse at Horace Mann. We write in response to Sunday’s letter from Board Chair Steve Friedman and Head of School Tom Kelly, in which they blamed us for their refusal to tell you and us what happened at HM and why. As a result, we are asking you directly today to support our ongoing call for an independent investigation and public accounting, ending the cover-up at Horace Mann.

Mr. Friedman and Dr. Kelly would have you believe we are satisfied with the trustees’ actions. This is false. The trustees’ response has left us worse off than before, causing fresh pain and hindering our ability to heal and to move on with our lives. From the beginning, our chief request has been a fully public investigation by a credible, independent third party – not merely the minimum legally required cooperation with law enforcement. We continue to call upon Horace Mann to explain who knew what, when they knew it, how they responded, and how abuse was allowed to flourish for decades. Dozens of us were molested. Many more teachers abused us than the media have reported. Numerous trustees and administrators knew but did nothing or coerced victims into silence. As we have stated in the past, and despite contrary claims in Sunday’s letter, we are eager to tell our stories to a responsible investigator who examines both the roots of the abuse itself and the subsequent cover-up. We are not willing to do what has been offered: for our painful stories to be exploited in a “report” which intentionally ignores our questions about how a climate of molestation, rape and cover-up was allowed to flourish. To reject our request and then to blame us for the school’s lack of transparency – claiming the trustees are acting “out of respect for [our] wishes” – is yet another in a series of betrayals.

We make these requests out of affection for our alma mater and a desire to help heal our school and our community. We renew our request, expressed in our June and July 2012 letters, to meet with the trustees outside a legal environment to promote truth-based reconciliation. Our school’s motto is “Great is the truth, and it prevails.” If Mr. Friedman does not believe that motto, then he should resign in favor of someone who does believe in pursuing truth. If you support us in wanting our school to commission or cooperate with a careful investigation and to tell the truth of what happened, please write to Mr. Friedman and Dr. Kelly at headofschool@horacemann.org. If you have donated to Horace Mann in the past, please consider telling them that until the truth is told, you will restrict your donations to supporting an investigation (commissioned by HM or by alumni) or to helping the victims directly. If you have not donated in the past, please consider telling them you will give if they stop the cover-up. If you have any questions, you can contact us at HoraceMannSurvivor@gmail.com.

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October 11 2013 update from Joseph Cumming ’77:

[1] Several people have written politely asking us who, exactly, is behind the above letter. Horace Mann’s spokesman at the PR firm of Kekst and Company questioned how many survivors were behind it. This letter was drafted and released corporately through a consensus process involving all of the women and men who have come together in the Horace Mann Survivors’ Group. Successive drafts were circulated via email among a community of 34 people, including 31 survivors of sexual abuse and 3 people representing close family members who took their own lives. Despite the short timeframe, the large majority of group members contributed input on the successive drafts, and only a small handful were unable to be reached for comment (some due to illness). On the final draft 30 members were able to provide comments, and all were favorable. Some members of the group have good reasons – including family responsibilities and professional obligations – for not feeling free to be individually and publicly named as survivors of sexual abuse. Nonetheless 15 members of the Survivors’ Group have been publicly identified by name – either in the news media (11 of us) or on the alumni-related Facebook groups (4 more).

Raped by a Teacher

Published online today, Daily Beast reporter, Abigail Pesta, shares a heartbreaking story of a young woman who was raped by her teacher while a student at Horace Mann in the 1980s.

Raped by a Teacher: One Woman’s Tragic Past at the Horace Mann School

Warning: This is painful reading. Years of sexual and emotional abuse are described. Bravely and generously the victim,  now an adult, shares these awful experiences.  Not only is her strength inspirational, but her story helps us to understand why it is so difficult for children to come forward and seek help.

Letter from More than 100 Horace Mann Alumni Sent to the New York Times today

17 July 2012

The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

To the editor:

In private communication with more than two thousand Horace Mann School alumni, we have learned of many more instances of sexual abuse by past teachers. We are shocked by their sheer brutality and number. The school has not acknowledged the truth of the abuses, but we can. We call for an independent, thorough investigation.

We have urged the school to apologize to our classmates who were abused and we are appalled that those school trustees who were aware of abuses at the time and ignored them, as recorded in the New York Times, have not resigned. We have demanded their removal.

Justice and healing can begin with accountability, transparency and truth.

[This letter is signed below by one hundred Horace Mann alumni from the classes of 1959 through 2007]
David Ambaras ’79
Andrew M Ansorge ’70
Mary Louise Cannon Apadula ’79
Abigail Aronson ’87
Kate Aurthur, ’87
Ed Beck ’64
Stephen Beer ’79
Sarah Birnbaum, ’87
Peter Blum ’70
Gordon Bock ’72
Alexander N. Bossy ’83
Clifford Brody ’75
Peter Brooks ’66
Allan Burke ’67
Jeremy Burns ’93
David Buskin, ’61
Herb Callender ’76
Nicholas V. Chen ’75
Charles Chessler ’79
Alex Citron ’71
Elizabeth B. Cooper ’79
Fosca D’Acierno ’88
Julie Shmalo Datnow ’87
Sara Rosenfeld Dassel ’85
Rachel Dickstein 88
Betsy Drapkin
Michelle Dumitriu ’95
Clare Dooley 85
Arthur Drooker ’72
Skylar R.H. Fein ’86
Martin Fenton ’72
Carole Kline Feuer ’79
Stephen L. Fife ’71
Mark Finkel ‘72
Eric R. Finkelman ’75.
Hal Fischer ’68
Margaret L. Frank ’78
Jessica Fridman ’91
Kate Geis ’87
Geoffrey H. Genth ’82
Patrick Gibson of 78
Jessica Gould
jeremy szold ginzberg ’69
Robin Gise ’90
Vicki Lan Goldstone ’90.
Laurie Gordon MD ’87
Peter Greer ’71
Lisa Grossman ’92
Debbie Gruber ’87
David Gutterman ’84
John Haber ’72
Ele Hamburger ’83
Dean Harris ’68
Albert Herskovits
Jonathan Himoff ‎’81
Lance Hoffman ’75
Rob Hollander ’72
Elizabeth Leef Jacobson ’79
Jen Kaminsky ’95
Sam Kanter ’64
Gerard Kiernan ’85
Kim Dooley Kittay ’87
Jay Kooper ’91
LarryKurzner ’79
Edward Lay ’78
Marc Lerner ’89
Merrill Lewen ‎’80
Rebecca Linden ’85
Chris Macri ’89
Joshua Malina ’84.
Gregory Mishkin ’88
Michael S Mishkin ’59
Erica Modugno ’89
Jodi Nass ’78
catherine newman ’83
Robert Nisonoff ’82
Mariana Olenko ’85
Peter M. Oppenheimer, Ph.D. ’75
Cari Lewis-Osborne ’88
Joseph R. Osborne’88
Michelle Packles ’90
Kirsten Paige ‎’07
Jamie Parish ’79
Peter Park ’89
Elizabeth Slaybaugh Picard ’85
Alison Pollet ’86
Dean Preston ’87
Christina Propst ’87
Gita Rebbapragada, ’95
Narasu Rebbapragada ’89
Umaa Rebbapragada ‎’93
Michael Rosen ’79
Charlotte Rosenberg ’83
Debby Rovine ’87
Josh Russell ’75
Marina Rustow ‎’86
Joanna Samuels ’88
Shira Sanders ‎’81
Suzanne Schecter ’80
Mitch Schonfeld ’73
Allison Schultz ’84
Rachel Schwartz ’87
Tom Seidner ’70
Jen Slaybaugh ’88
Mark Allen Smith ’68
Gustavus Stadler ’84
Natasha Steinhardt ’90
James Strickler ’66
Alice Swenson, ’89
Alexander Turoff ’84
David Vogel ’73
Raphael Winick, ’84
Sophia Ahsen Wolf ’85
Jennifer Berman Yoken ’89

Horace Mann Alum Rob Hollander’s Letter to the New York Times

To the editor:

In private communication with over 2000 Horace Mann School alumni, we have learned of several instances of sexual abuse perpetrated by past faculty against students, some more egregious than those which have already been published. We are appalled that the school administration has failed to reach out to our classmates who were sexually abused. Our demands for an apology on behalf of those classmates have been met with silence. We are also appalled that those school Trustees who were aware of those abuses at the time and ignored them have not resigned from the Board. We have demanded that they be removed.

Justice, accountability and healing cannot be complete without these first steps.

[signed by ?# of Horace Mann alumni listed alphabetically]

In his message to us, Rob writes:

I am gathering signatures for the letter below intended for the New York Times. If you wish to sign, please email me at hollander.rob@gmail.com indicating your desire to have your name included.

I intend to list the signatures in alphabetical order including non survivor alumni and survivors alike. I do not need a great many signatures, but I don’t wish to exclude anyone. Alternatively, the signatures can be compiled and submitted by other means — a webpage or by some other person. In any case, I would like to get this moving quickly, since newspapers do not print letters that are no longer timely.

(I’ve kept it short to increase the likelihood of getting it published.) Thanks to Christina Propst for her wise emendations.