“Horace Mann”: The Secret Abuse at the Elite School

3:40 am  |  20.01.2022

It was an open secret that there was sexual abuse at the renowned New York elite school “Horace Mann”, but nobody did anything about it. Former students were breaking their silence.

Riverdale is beautiful. Riverdale is in north New York, just two steps across the Harlem River – that crooked little river that separates the island of Manhattan from the mainland, the Bronx. Yes, Riverdale is part of the Bronx, at least geographically, but that’s hard to believe when you step off the train here: Riverdale is green, bucolic, almost suburban.

There are beautiful houses here and a large park. And if you’re a married couple looking for property here, the all agents say the same thing: “If you have kids, Horace Mann School is just around the corner. One of the best private schools in the country.”

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That’s probably true, according to the “Wall Street Journal” it’s the fourth-best school in America, and according to “Forbes” magazine, it’s even the second-best. The Horace Mann School is a private institution and only accepts special students.

Bad Memories from Former Students

The report, released by a nonprofit group called the Horace Mann Action Coalition, claimed there were more than 60 victims of sexual abuse by more than 20 different educators at The Horace Mann School.

Source: Horace Mann School

In the twelfth grade, the pupils are released into life at the age of 17 or 18; many of them then end up in elite universities like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. But now the posh educational institute has become a topic of conversation. Former students remember, and the memories aren’t good.

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There was Stanley Kops, the history teacher. When he questioned students, he would massage their shoulders; if they still didn’t know the answer, he would twist their arms back and tug, gently at first, then harder and harder. Again and again, he suspended classes and hosted what he called “frolics.”

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The children then ran wildly around the classroom, he in the middle of it; if the “romp around” was particularly wild and he bumped into many students, his face would turn red. Then there was Mark Wright, who taught art and American football.

One student remembers how Wright called him into his studio one day to paint a portrait of him: “He told me to bring a bathing suit, but when I got there he told me it was too much trouble, they put on…I remember exactly what he said: he wanted to see the connection between my legs.”

“I did it even though it disgusted me”

The worst case, however, is probably that of a music teacher whose name was Johannes Somary. He was of Swiss-Austrian origin and was generally regarded as a genius. One student recalls Somary hiring him as a babysitter and then grabbing his fly afterward. Another student had to be kissed by him.

Then the teacher took him on an extended trip to Europe: “We stayed in the best hotels, I met the greatest musicians of the time and ate in the best restaurants. He expected me to have sex with him and I did it, although it disgusted me.”

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When the student told his parents that he no longer wanted to sleep in a hotel room with Mr. Somary, the teacher drove to his home. In the middle of his living room, in the presence of the student’s father, he begged him to reconsider. The parents thought it was harmless.

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All of this was around 30 years ago now. The Horace Mann School was not entirely wrong in every case. Stanley Kops, the history teacher with a penchant for “frolicking,” was fired for openly sexually molesting a student.

Mark Wright, the pedophile art teacher, also disappeared overnight after one of his victims complained. What was not there at all, however, was an explanation. The occurrence of sexual abuse was an open secret, whispered about in the corridors (some teachers were told to “beware of them”), but no one did anything about it.

No One Warned

Apparently, no one was warned that those released were pedophiles. The case of Johannes Somary is almost inexplicable: He taught at the “Horace Mann School” until his retirement in 2002 when rumors circulated that he chose a “favorite” among his students every year. When he died of a stroke in 2011, a memorial event that was as touching as it was mendacious was held in his honor.

Now you can say that 30 years ago everything was different. There was little public awareness of child sexual abuse; and the “Horace Mann School”, it is said, has changed radically since then, today there are ways of making complaints so that children are not defenseless at the mercy of pedophile predators. That may be true.

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But Amos Kamil, a Horace Mann School alumnus who surveyed 60 alumni for an article in The New York Times magazine, believes the problem is by no means limited to three teachers. Many male legal guardians are said to have slept with their students, and there are said to have been female teachers who molested students.

Comparable Scandal at “Penn State”

Pennsylvania State University

Source: Getty Images

All of these revelations are boiling to the surface as America remains reeling from a similar scandal at Pennsylvania State University. A year ago it was revealed that popular trainer Jerry Sandusky had been sexually molesting dozens of boys there since 1994 (maybe as early as the 1970s).

The school sent an official letter to reporter Amos Kamil. It states: “The current school administration is unable to comment on events involving former, in some cases deceased, faculty members that occurred years before we assumed leadership of the school.”

In addition, there was a fire in June 1984, in which various school documents were burned. This is too little. Because the least that victims of sexual abuse need are a public admission that something horrible happened to them; and that they are not to blame for what has been done to them.

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