An investigative reporter sheds light on a shocking decadeslong sex scandal at a prestigious New York prep school.
Kamil was a proud Horace Mann graduate. For him and the friends he made at the school, it was “a unique, life-forging experience…[that] had made [them] who [they] were.” But when they reunited a few years after they graduated from college and began comparing notes about their experiences at Horace Mann, an unsettling pattern begin to emerge. Almost everyone in the group had endured some form of sexual harassment and/or abuse, including rape. At the time, no one thought to explore these stories further. But 20 years later, in the shadow of the 2011 Jerry Sandusky Penn State football sex scandal, Kamil realized that justice needed to be done. So he began reaching out to other Horace Mann graduates and eventually published an article called “Prep School Predators” in the New York Times Magazine on June 10, 2012. The piece received more than 1,000 online comments, many of which came from sex abuse survivors. Former students began demanding that Horace Mann take responsibility for the actions of the nearly two-dozen teachers implicated in a scandal that took place over more than 30 years. Despite credible testimonies, media exposure, and eventual legal action, the school, which boasted “some of the world’s richest alumni,” managed to settle with the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit against it for “pennies on the dollar.” Although two members of the Horace Mann board of directors went on to form a charity to help survivors pay for therapy services, the school itself never fully acknowledged it was at fault and never pursued the independent investigation to bring closure to a painful episode. To Kamil’s credit, he never attacks his alma mater for its handling of the sex scandal, but he uses his narrative to bring truth out of darkness and let it prevail, just as it does in the words of Horace Mann’s school song.
A disturbing but necessary book.