A new book about the sex-abuse scandal at the prestigious Horace Mann School in Riverdale, New York identifies coaches, teachers and administrators accused of raping and assaulting scores of students over three decades.
The book, Great is the Truth, also names officials at the prep school, including a former headmaster and a former chair of the school’s board of trustees, who allegedly ignored and covered up complaints of abuse, the New York Daily News reports.
Author Amos Kamil criticizes New York legislators and policy makers who have refused to extend the statute of limitations that makes it nearly impossible for adult survivors of abuse to pursue criminal charges and civil litigation in New York. Kamil, a playwright and investigative journalist and a 1982 Horace Mann graduate, wrote a 2012 article for the New York Times Magazine that threw a spotlight on the Horace Mann scandal.
After Kamil’s 8,700- word article, dozens of survivors banded together to seek justice and acknowledgment of the abuse they endured. Their demands included an independent investigation into how nearly two dozen faculty members were able to rape and assault more than 60 students over three decade. The group sought assistance and compensation for the abuse survivors, some of whom struggled with other emotional damage years after they left the prep school, according to the Daily News.
The survivors urged the school to lobby state lawmakers to change the statute of limitations so sexual abuse victims could seek redress in the courts. Victim advocates say New York is one of the worst states in the nation for survivors of childhood sexual abuse because of its stringent statute of limitations. In New York, victims have only five years from the time their abuse is reported to police, or until they turn 23 years old — whichever comes first — to file a lawsuit against their abusers and the abusers’ employers. Victim advocates say this limit encourages churches, schools and other institutions to remain silent to escape legal liability.
An attorney who specializes in sex abuse said the New York statute of limitations discourages schools and organizations from taking steps to make victims whole and prevent future abuse. The law encourages institutions to do nothing until the statute of limitations runs out, according to the Daily News.
State Assemblywoman Margaret Markey has been working since the 2006 for a change in the statute of limitations. The Child Victims Act would allow victims to report crimes until they reach age 28. Victims previously prevented from filing lawsuits by the statute of limitations would have a one-year window to file civil lawsuits, the Daily News reports.
The bill has passed the Assembly but not the State Senate. The Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish groups have mounted opposition to the legislation, out of fear of an onslaught of lawsuits if the bill passes, Kamil says.
According to the book, Poly Prep paid nearly $10 million to 12 survivors, while Penn State paid nearly $60 million to 26 victims of Jerry Sandusky. Horace Mann paid abuse victims between $4 million and $5 million. Kamil says Horace Mann officials offered victims only a fraction of what they thought they deserved and refused to investigate the decades of abuse. Many survivors describe this as “retraumatization,” according to the Daily News.
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