Horace Mann questioned on its plan to release testimony

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An attorney representing 25 Horace Mann alumni who were sexually abused by former school faculty has come down on the hilltop school for proposing to release testimony in which victims detailed their abuse. 

Gloria Allred, the alumni’s attorney, said the school was posturing in an attempt to divert attention away from Horace Mann’s refusal to conduct an independent investigation despite survivors’ repeated requests that the school undertake one. 

“ … We believe it is clear that Horace Mann has chosen falsely to state to the world that the mediators would prepare an ‘independent’ report of what they learned at the mediation, knowing that no such report will ever be prepared,” Ms. Allred said in a statement released May 30. “Such institutional deception and ongoing bad faith has served only to exacerbate and reopen the deep anxieties and feelings of those who are the victims and continue to struggle every day to survive the abuse that altered their lives.”

In a letter released May 24, Horace Mann Head of School Thomas Kelly and Board of Trustees Chair Steven Friedman apologized to former students who were abused by school staff between 1962 and 1996. 

The letter noted that Horace Mann had accepted Commonwealth Mediation and Conciliation Inc.’s proposal that the firm prepare a summary of the testimony 31 victims gave during settlement talks, without identifying survivors. Because the abusers are dead, mentally infirm or unwilling to discuss accusations, the note concluded that, “these reports heard by the mediators — shared privately and in person by survivors — provide us the greatest insight into what happened.”

Ms. Allred said Commonwealth Mediation CEO Paul Finn wrote in a March 28 e-mail that, “We are neutrals and will remain the same. We will ask the Board to conduct an independent investigation as part of our recommendations, but we will not ask the Board to hire us to do that investigation.”

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