Today, the NY Times published its big weekend magazine feature online, and it's a sprawling look at decades of alleged sexual abuse at one of New York City's top private schools. Former student Amos Kimel, who graduated in 1982, begins by describing about the lush campus was a world away from his I.S. 144 in the Bronx, "Shortly after my arrival, a new friend walked me around the school, pointing out teachers to avoid. 'What do you mean? Like, they’re hard graders?' 'No. Perverts. Stay away from them. Trust me.'"
What follows are anecdotes from other former students—all male—who discuss how various male teachers preyed upon them. One recalled that as an eighth grader, a popular art teacher and football coach asked to draw a portrait of him, "He told me to bring a bathing suit, but when I got there he said not to bother putting it on. I was really uncomfortable but did it anyway since he was across the room. I remember exactly what he said: that he needed to see the connection between my legs. The next thing I knew, he had my penis in his hand. I was so scared."
There are numerous other instances of former students recounting how they were assaulted by teachers. One alum started a website about one teacher that abused him in 1973, and decades later, that same teacher assaulted a Class of 1994 student, Ben Balter. When Balter's mother confronted the Swiss teacher, he allegedly claimed, "Ben kissed me first," and when she said, "How dare you put your tongue down my son’s mouth!" he told her, “That’s how we Swiss kiss." His mother confronted the administration, but was stymied when a lawyer demanded evidence. Balter killed himself in 2009.
Still, Kamil notes:
I have several friends who confided in me, back in high school, about their own sexual encounters with teachers, but who are now unwilling to talk about it. I can’t say I blame them. Victims rarely speak out, said Paul Mones, a lawyer who represents people who have been sexually abused by authority figures. “The whole goal of the grooming process is to wrap the child close,” he told me. “The affection and trust is to make the kid complicit in the act. Make them feel like it was their fault, so it won’t even occur to them to talk.” Even if they do, 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.
The school would not comment about the accusations, only saying that there are policies in place for people to report incidents of sexual abuse; a former board of trustees member told Kamil, "No one will talk to you. They are all lawyering up."