Horace Mann School Hid History of Sexual Abuse, Report Says

By Paul DeBenedetto on June 7, 2012 1:53pm 

Horace Mann School.
Horace Mann School.
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horacemann.org

THE BRONX — The elite Horace Mann School in Riverdale boasts an alumni list of Pulitzer Prize winners, politicians and media executives — but according to a shocking new report, the school also has a much darker history.

An article to be published in this weekend's New York Times Magazine reveals multiple instances of alleged student sexual abuse by faculty members at the upscale prep school between 1978 and 1993.

The story's writer and Horace Mann alum Amos Kamil interviewed 60 former students and 15 former and current staff members for the story. It focuses on three specific incidents, though sources in the story allude to a string of abuses.

In a 1978 case, a Horace Mann alum referred to in the story only as "Andrew" was asked by assistant football coach Mark Wright to pose for a portrait, the paper reported. In that incident, Andrew was allegedly assaulted.

Andrew told Kamil he was too ashamed of what happened to report it. Wright continued to work at the school until another player reported "inappropriate physicals" to the administration. Wright was quietly dismissed.

Former Horace Mann teacher Stanley Kops would allegedly cancel class for an activity he called "frolic," in which "he would allow kids to run amok in the classroom and kind of joined in the action."

At a camping trip in 1983, Kops reportedly grabbed his crotch in front of a student, who started screaming for help. Kops was also quietly dismissed, and a year later shot himself in his car.

And in 1993, a student named Benjamin Balter was repeatedly abused by music teacher Johannes Somary, the report said. After he was discovered passed out on sleeping pills, Balter finally told his parents about the abuse. His mother confronted the teacher.

“How dare you put your tongue down my son’s mouth!” she reportedly said.

“That’s how we Swiss kiss,” Somary, who is from Switzerland, replied.

Faculty rallied around Somary and he was never disciplined. He retired in 2002 at the age of 67, and died in 2011 from a stroke. 

Balter killed himself in 2009, the Times said.

The school did not respond to questions about the specific incidents, Kamil reported. 

In a prepared statement given to Kamil and later distributed to the community, the school said, in part: “The article contains allegations dating back, in some instances, 30 years, long before the current administration took office, which makes it difficult to accurately respond to the factual allegations therein. In addition, on June 13, 1984, there was a fire in the attic of the business office that destroyed some records.”

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