Bronx D.A. finds ‘systemic pattern’ of abuse at Horace Mann but cannot prosecute
Bronx prosecutors revealed today that an investigation found a “systemic pattern” of alleged sexual abuse at the Horace Mann School, including 12 different alleged abusers, but that they could not prosecute.
After a New York Times article last summer detailed allegations of decades of abuse at the Bronx private school, the City Council asked the Bronx District Attorney to investigate.
The D.A. set up a hotline, staffed by their Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Bureau, where victims could call. About 30 people phoned in during about a 10-month period, according to the D.A.’s office.
During the investigation, officials conducted 60 interviews, 25 with victims of alleged abuse. Some of the interviewees lived outside New York, in states including California and Colorado.
Prosecutors, along with cops who helped with interviews, found a “systemic pattern of alleged abuse beyond what was outlined” in the article.
The alleged actions ranged from what some might characterize as inappropriate behavior, officials said, to sexual intercourse and criminal sexual acts.
The earliest reported incident was 1962, and most incidences happened in the 70s, prosecutors said. But the alleged abuse continued into the 1990s, with the last reported case in 1996.
But prosecutors said they cannot prosecute any of the cases, citing various reasons including the statue of limitations having already passed.
The office expressed frustration with the limits of the law, noting that all school officials are required to report suspected abuse by a parent or other legal guardian, but they are not required to report abuse by other employees.
Another apparent prosecution loophole they mentioned is a law addressing child abuse in an “educational setting,” but which does not apply to private schools, prosecutors said.
The district attorney’s office said they will push for this to be broadened to include child abuse committed by anyone employed by a school, on school property or a school-sponsored event.
The report notes that some cases of abuse might have come to the attention of school officials without cops ever being called.
“This certainly highlights an alarming gap in New York State’s mandatory reporting laws,” according to the D.A.’s’ report.