The following is the official survivors’ group response to the letter issued this morning by Steven M. Friedman, Chair, Horace Mann School Board of Trustees:
The survivors of sexual abuse at the Horace Mann School welcome outreach by the Board of Trustees, although we are disappointed in the amount of time it took the Board to generate a response to our requests, which we first made on June 21, 2012.
While any gesture of outreach is positive, we are disappointed as well that this response does not address the requests we made in June and have repeated since: an apology from the institution, compensation for the survivors, and an independent investigation.
The investigation by the Bronx District Attorney’s office does not constitute an independent investigation according to established best practices. Nor does the NYPD investigation, also in progress. These investigations are not voluntary. The model for an independent investigation is the Freeh Report conducted by Penn State, which was voluntary, was funded by the school itself, and was not restricted by any constraints, such as the statute of limitations, on its ability to see its inquiry through to its conclusions. An independent investigation conducted by special outside counsel retained by the School for that purpose is especially appropriate and necessary in light of the facts that have come to light concerning the involvement of predecessor School Heads and Boards of Trustees in failing to respond to and/or suppressing reports of sexual abuse. These failures and suppressions would not necessarily be the subject of the DA’s or NYPD investigation.
We are disappointed as we have been in the past that the School and the Board choose to communicate in detail with the community as a whole before communicating in any substantive way with us.
We continue to assert our requests, and hope that a fully satisfactory response will be forthcoming from the School and the Board in future.