Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sexual abuse at a prep school: Horace Mann

NYTimes   “Guys, I have to tell you something that happened to me when we were at H.M. Do you remember Mr. Wright, the football coach?” Our metal utensils ceased clanking. Speaking calmly and staring into the flames, he told us that when he was in eighth grade, Wright sexually assaulted him. “And not just me,” he added. “There were others.” First Wright befriended him, he said. Then he molested him. Then he pretended nothing happened. 

No one knew what to say, at least at first. But then slowly, the rest of us started telling stories, too. One of the guys talked about a teacher who took him on a field trip, and then invited him into his bed in the hotel room they were sharing. (My friend fled, walking in the rain for hours until the coast seemed clear.) Another told a story about a teacher who got him drunk and naked; that time, no one fled. We talked about the steakhouse dinner, which was a far cry from abuse, but an example of how easy it can be for boundaries to blur and how hard it can be, in the moment, for students to get their bearings. Finally, we all went to sleep.[...]

This was 1978, a different era in terms of public awareness about sexual predators. Today children are taught from a young age that unwelcome touches are not O.K., not their fault and should be reported immediately. But at 13, Andrew hadn’t heard any of those lectures. He didn’t tell his other teachers or his parents. He felt too ashamed to talk about what happened. “What I did do in the immediate aftermath,” he said, “was contribute to the rumors going around that Mark Wright was a child molester, which were pretty rampant at that time. I’d join conversations about it and say that I’d heard he was into boys, etc. But these conversations were always very frustrating, because he had a lot of defenders who would say that people said this about him because they were jealous that he was such a stud.”  [...]

At Horace Mann, students who spoke up at the time and saw quick action from the school seem to have suffered few, if any, ill effects. “I was not traumatized by the experience in the least,” Seth, the student at the center of the John Dorr Nature Lab confrontation with Stan Kops, told me. “In fact, I was just relaying the story to a friend the other day at lunch. I think the school acted swiftly and appropriately.” 

1 comment :

  1. The school issued a response today on the New York Times article and sent it to its current parents body:

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