June 6, 2012. The New York Times article by Amos Kamil, “Prep School Predators,” is published. Six years ago today. Social media pages began. Alumni awareness began. Survivors and school officials knew for much longer.
August 6, 2012. Letter from the Trustees: “Our goal is that Horace Mann School will be the standard in New York on this vitally important issue.”
6/6/18. It hasn’t.
Meanwhile, accountability and learning from the past has accelerated.
1) Investigations – Hundreds of schools have worked to understand how and why abuse continued.
Deerfield (MA), Kamehameha (HI), The Potomac School (VA), Carolina Friends (NC), Marlborough School (CA), St. Mary’s International School, Alumni with the Horace Mann Action Coalition, St. George’s School (RI), Peck School (NJ), Chaminade High School (NY), Fordham Prep (NY), Concord Academy (MA), Phillips Andover (MA), St. George’s School (RI), Pomfret (CT), Solebury (PA), Milton Academy (MA), Phillips Exeter (NH), Milton Academy (MA), Pingry (NJ), Choate (CT), Emma Willard (NY), Emma Willard Alumnae Advisory Task Force, Brearley (NY), St. Paul’s School (NH), Darlington Schoo (GA), Isidore Newman school (LA), Archbishop Keough High School (MD), Portsmouth Abbey School (RI),
The all too common finding? : “The investigation, published in August, exposed a system that helped the abuser evade allegations of sexual misconduct for years at the expense of students.”
Today. The administration at Horace Mann School continues to refuse to conduct an independent investigation.
2) Accountability – #MeToo has made it easier for survivors to see they are not alone and speak out. Abusers who may have counted on power to muzzle the truth have been exposed: Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein. Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose. Many more.
The pace of steps toward justice is accelerating: Eric Schneiderman, Missouri Gov. Greitens.
3) Enablers – Leaders are no longer immune. Officials who failed to take action or covered past abuse or enabled it to remain are facing their culpability. The presidents of Michigan State University and the University of Southern California. Administrators, Trustees, officers and officials in schools.
Michigan State needs to wear this shame – Jemele Hill, on her alma mater’s enabling of sexual abuser Larry Nassar: “When protecting institutions, friendships, business partnerships and image become more important than protecting vulnerable people, you get what you deserve.”
The climate has changed. We cannot look away anymore. Perhaps not in this generation, but still: Magna est veritas et praevalet.