"The Master" Sexual Abuse Allegations at Horace Mann

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Entrance to the Horace Mann school (Wikipedia Commons)

Marc Fisher discusses allegations of sexual abuse at Horace Mann, an elite prep school in the Bronx. Fisher went to high school at Horace Mann in the 1970s, and he investigates the teachers allegedly involved and how the school’s alumni continue to wrestle with questions of how sexual abuse was allowed this to occur and what, exactly, they knew when they were in school. His article "The Master" appears in the April 1 issue of The New Yorker.


Marc Fisher

Comments [14]

There's not a single possible iota of doubt that systemic abuse existed at Horace Mann, and was covered up by the administration. Horace Mann's official response is disgraceful, but it's truly tragic that these abusers will escape prosecution.

We need to lobby our representatives to remove the statute of limitations, retroactively, on crimes of sexual abuse against children.

Mar. 27 2013 06:38 PM
jeremy szold ginzberg from portland boregon

im a horace mann grad, class of 69. as per dr mendelson above, fisher is a professional and talented journalist and the new yorker article was thoroughly fact-checked. horrible as the article makes hm seem, the reality was somewhat worse. altho 'the master' made overtures toward me, i escaped rape. i was the victim of two felony assaults by teachers. one bruised my coccyx while dragging me down a flight of stairs and the other gave me a black eye when he cracked my head against that of another student. fisher semi-fond memories notwithstanding, all of the non-criminal faculty he contacted were, to a man, (allison, clinton, alexander, lewerth) capricious, author martinets and certainly not 'beloved,' by those they did not favor

Mar. 27 2013 06:23 AM
Jane from CPS in NYC

Like many families which appear perfect, there were problems behind closed doors. By fourteen I was heavily into drugs, had run away from Philadelphia to Puerto Rico, was sent home by police, and that is when I began in a small private school. Up until a few years ago I would have said that school saved my life. Maybe it did. I had contacted the headmaster to thank him. We traded a few e-mails. He sent me a short story he had just written and something crashed in on me. His clearly auto-biographical story was pure pedophile. It occurred to me that he had left the school and the state to live with a student with whom he had been sleeping. His wife also taught at this school, and was also sleeping with one of the students. As a student I was sleeping with one of the teachers, as were many of my friends. I got out the school yearbook and counted. Sixty percent of the teachers were sleeping with students. This school had been so great for so many students. On the other hand, we were supposed to be IN the playground - - we weren't supposed to BE the playground. Was it 'just the times' as some explain? I am not sure who I would speak to even if I did know what to say.

Mar. 27 2013 01:20 AM
Stuart Mendelson, M.D.

To state in your heading that my classmate, Marc Fisher, makes "allegations" of sexual abuse at Horace Mann misses the point entirely. Marc, unlike many who have made allegations, did real research into the matter. He has presented information drawn from primary sources whenever possible, allowing the reader to draw his own conclusions. This is precisely what makes his fine article stand apart from the witch- hunt that has dominated the on-line chatter these past many months. Congratulations to him for his excellent work.

Stuart Mendelson,M.D.

Mar. 26 2013 08:31 PM
Caroline Schimmel from Greenwich, CT

I just listened through the whole piece, and was shocked at how Leonard treated caller "Robert" (at ca minute 24), when he obviously wanted to share a troubling story and was cut off. Was this for legal reasons--which I cannot imagine--or what?? Shame on you, Leonard, or explain the editorial decision

Mar. 26 2013 07:30 PM
Greg in the Bronx from Spuyten Duyvil

Agree with thatgirl. Much of what was mentioned here is, clearly, creepy. You can stick to all the correct, New York Times-approved adjectives, or you can just go right to the point.

Mar. 26 2013 05:57 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

S. from NY - Keep in mind that the guest was a student there in the 1970s, and both needs to and should describe it as he saw it as a first-hand witness. And it IS creepy!

Mar. 26 2013 12:41 PM
HM alum from UWS

I went to HM in the 90s and will not make any donations to the school or participate in any alumni events until the administration deals with its history of abuse. I am ashamed of having gone to HM and the school needs to address the tragedies that took place for too long.

Mar. 26 2013 12:40 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

Badly handled by Horace Mann! Dismissing these allegations and denying its criminality--particularly that there was more than one teacher involved--will hurt them both permanently and cumulatively. It isn't a matter of a "couple of eccentric/bad apples," but a culture of denial.

Mar. 26 2013 12:37 PM
S. from NY

The main point of this discussion is the abuse that took place at the school including by this particular professor. However, as an aside, the guest has mentioned a few times "that's creepy" when describing how this particular professor had silence in the class for the first 10 minutes and how this professor stepped on chalk on the floor and referred to that as the students. Using dramatic presentation in a class, especially in a creative arts class, has nothing to do with "creepy", notwithstanding what happened at this school. The guest is using twelve year old descriptive language.

Mar. 26 2013 12:37 PM
Greg in the Bronx from Spuyten Duyvil

What about students prior to 1970? Have they been given a voice in this? Perhaps homosesuality and innapproprioate behavior toward children has been part of Horace Mann's culture for many decades?

Mar. 26 2013 12:35 PM
William from Manhattan

Did any of the Horace Mann perpetrators offer a "classical" justification for their actions - ie, the Greco-Roman practice of pedagogy/pedophilia?

Mar. 26 2013 12:31 PM

Wow, and I thought Catholic school was bad. Totally criminal behavior. I don't care what they inspired.

Mar. 26 2013 12:30 PM
oscar from ny

I was sexually abused when I was five by a female nanny when i was in foster care and it messed me up completely, I'm so sex starved all the time and it has influenced almost every taught ever since. I don't think theres a cure for this and I always wonder what type of person I would be if this hasn't ocurred to me, but I will say that in all the darkness of all this somehow I feel that my destiny was to have live in this state and I have always been somehow more enduring in everything because of it.

Mar. 26 2013 09:47 AM

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