Nearly three weeks ago
, the NY Times published a former Horace Mann student's feature about a "secret history" of abuse at the venerable Bronx private school. In the article, numerous students accused various teachers of inappropriate sexual conduct and behavior—one student, whose mother's efforts to address a teacher's actions were allegedly stymied, recently killed himself. Now, after the NYPD has set up a hotline for abuse victims and the Bronx DA's office is looking for people to step forward, one former teacher tells the Times that, yes, he did have sex with students while he was their teacher.
The NY Times interviewed Tek Young Lin, now 88 and a former World War II vet who started teaching at Horace Mann in 1955, last week and he "acknowledged that there was something to those whispers. He said he had had sex with students, 'maybe three, I don’t know,' crossing boundaries he said were not so clear years ago. 'In those days, it was very spontaneous and casual, and it did not seem really wrong,' he said."
Lin is described as being "revered...He was different from other teachers — a Buddhist who carefully tended to his elaborate gardens, a chaplain and a cross-country coach. He was so beloved that the English department chairmanship was named in his honor." However, after rumors that he was an allegedly predatory teacher, his name was taken off the chairmanship. Lin, who lives in Santa Cruz, California now, told the Times, "The only thing I can assure you of was that everything I did was in warmth and affection and not a power play. I may have crossed societal boundaries. If I did, I am sorry."
The Times has interviewed three former students who described inappropriate contact by Mr. Lin. One said he refused Mr. Lin’s request for sex; another said there had been physical contact, but no sex. One, who said he was 14 or 15 when the inappropriate contact began, said that Mr. Lin had sexual contact with him several times over several months, and that they had had a relationship that lasted years...
All three students cited Mr. Lin as a positive influence in their lives, even today, and seemed reluctant to speak, not wanting to hurt the reputation of a man who had opened their eyes to philosophy and literature, and whose strict grammar rules they remembered today.
One student said of Lin, "Delusional might not be the right word. But to not have the awareness that there’s a built-in power dynamic with a teacher and student?" And the one who had a relationship with him said, "Did Tek behave in a way that was inappropriate? Absolutely. Was he warm, was it a wonderful relationship? He opened up areas of philosophy to me. Yes."
In the interview, Lin referred to the relationships as "casual and warm" and also said, "In those days, the ’60s and ’70s, things were different." The Times had this fact as well—"Because of New York’s statutes of limitations, it is unlikely that Mr. Lin could be prosecuted or sued for any actions that occurred when he was at Horace Mann; he retired voluntarily in 1986"—which follows up an earlier depressing detail from the initial magazine article, "New York State’s statute of limitations, which says people who were victimized as minors cannot take civil action against an abuser after they turn 23, makes it unlikely that they would find justice."