In the wake of a shocking New York Times Magazine story alleging a series of prominent teachers at the prestigious Horace Mann School had sexually abused students, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson announced on Tuesday the start of a special hotline to encourage those who have either been victims of sexual abuse or have knowledge of past assaults to come forward anonymously.
The hotline also follows City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's request to have Johnson's office review the allegations because, although the alleged incidents occurred in the 1980's and early 1990's, the Times story "suggests a pervasive culture that allows such criminal behavior to occur.”
Similarly, two victims created HoraceMannSurvivor.org on Sunday as a forum to assist abuse victims to discuss their experiences on the site and "provide as safe as possible a space for survivors like us to find each other, to discover that they are not alone, and to contribute to one another’s healing."
The article was written by 1982 Horace Mann graduate Amos Kamil, who never claims to have been molested himself, but recounts enduring "long, creepy touches" by a swimming coach who disguised the inappropriate contact with tips on how to improve their strokes and form.
Kamil's whistle-blowing cover story includes multiple interviews providing disturbing recollections from his peers and fellow classmates during their days at Horace Mann. He recently spoke to The New York Times' "The 6th Floor" blog to discuss the reverberations of his story.
When asked if he's heard from administrators at Horace Mann, Kamil told the blog:
They won’t talk to me. I have people who say they had been abused writing to me every day. I have alumni at the school who were never abused but are outraged writing to me. Five or six people have contacted me privately to say that they were also sexually abused at Horace Mann. They have said that other teachers were involved. But I haven’t heard from anyone at the school. As I say in the article, they are all lawyering up.
Since Kamil's startling story, more than a thousand people have written to the Times to either express their outrage at the school, Kamil, or to come forward with their own abuse cases.
But as Kamil explains, most of the response has been "overwhelmingly positive" and he hopes "that gives some measure of comfort to the victims who hadn’t wanted to speak out."
The Bronx District Attorney's hotline dedicated to Horace Mann sexual abuse cases is (718) 838-7382.