Horace Mann, the New York City prep school at the center of sexual-abuse allegations by former students, should conduct an “independent and transparent” probe into the alleged crimes, attorney Gloria Allred said.
Allred joined some of the former students as they related their experiences at a news conference yesterday in New York. She is representing 22 men and three women who said they were victims of crimes including anal and vaginal rape by more than a dozen teachers and administrators at the elite school from the 1970s to the 1990s.
“We are here today to urge Horace Mann School in New York to conduct an immediate, independent and transparent investigation into the worst case of child sexual abuse in an American school in recent history,” Allred said yesterday. “The report at the end must be made public.”
Allred appeared with four men and one woman whom she referred to as “adult survivors” of the crimes allegedly committed by the former headmaster, Inslee Clark, and several teachers. Clark and the teachers mentioned yesterday are all deceased.
A partner in the Los Angeles law firm Allred Maroko & Goldberg, Allred said she hasn’t filed any lawsuits on behalf of her clients. She declined to say whether she would. She said 20 of her clients had reached settlements with the school, though declined to give additional details about them.
Thomas Kelly, the head of Horace Mann, didn’t respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment. Calls to the main office as well as the alumni office were referred back to Kelly.
Allred also called on the New York State legislature to pass a bill that would give victims of sexual crimes a one-year window to report their claims no matter how long ago they occurred. At present, the state’s statute of limitations would prevent any of the perpetrators from being criminally charged.
The scandal was disclosed in a June 2012 New York Times Magazine article written by a former Horace Mann student.
The abuses took place at the school, at the teachers’ and administrators’ homes and on school-sponsored trips, according to the students.
Jon Seiger, 51, a professional musician, gave the most graphic account yesterday of the abuse he said began when he was 14.
After a glee club concert, headmaster Clark invited him to his home, Seiger said. A history teacher, Stanley Kops, was also there. Seiger said they plied him with alcoholic drinks. Then they drove him to a Manhattan nightclub that he said was filled mostly with males over 50 and under 20.
The men picked up two prostitutes at the club and brought them back to Clark’s house, Seiger said. The men forced Seiger to have oral and anal sex with the prostitutes while they watched. After the prostitutes left, Clark and Kops forced him to have oral sex with them, he said. The abuse continued after that night, he said.
The victims were described by Allred as children who were vulnerable to sexual predators because of broken homes and other family stresses.
Some alumni are conducting their own investigation.
Robert Boynton, who graduated from Horace Mann in 1981, is a spokesman for an alumni group, Horace Mann Action Coalition. He said he’s skeptical about any probe by the school itself.
“It’s unlikely as snow in August,” said Boynton, a journalism professor at New York University who said he wasn’t a victim of sexual abuse while attending the prep school. “They’ve never cooperated.”
The alumni group hired retired New York State Supreme Court Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder to lead its investigation. Snyder also worked as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, where she headed investigations of sex crimes.
“I’m going to reach out to them and hope for their cooperation,” Snyder, who attended the news conference with Boynton, said of the school.
While Allred said it was important that the school conduct an independent investigation because it possesses the records and documents, Snyder said it was “questionable” whether such documents would be forthcoming. Horace Mann has said many of its files were destroyed in a fire, she said.