Horace Mann alumni tap ex-judge to lead sex probe

April 22, 2013 3:17:47 PM PDT
A group of Horace Mann alumni who say they were sexually abused while students there are calling on the elite New York City school to appoint an independent investigator.

There is a call for two different investigations into these horrendous allegations of sexual abuse.

And coming out of the shadows, are now several former students who claim they were victims.

"My name is Ron Klepper and I was sexually abused repeatedly as a 13-year-old student at Horace Mann," Klepper said.

"I was 15 years old when it began, and a student at Horace Mann. I have carried this secret all my life," said Daniel Shapiro, a former student.

The former students revealed what they say were their darkest hours of their young lives.

The four former students at Horace Mann School claim they are among 25 who accuse former teachers and administrators of sexual abuse in the 70's, 80's and 90's.

"My childhood was taken from me. There was no safe place anywhere at Horace Mann because everywhere I turned, another predator lurked," said John Seiger, a former student.

Seiger described in disturbing detail how he was abused for six years.

"These predators appear to have spoken to one another, identifying and passing the most vulnerable students around. My experience makes that clear," Seiger said.

The group, along with their attorney Gloria Allred, is now calling on Horace Mann directors to investigate the allegations which began surfacing last year.

"Horace Mann must now do everything that they can do to conduct an independent and transparent investigation and take immediate action to get to the truth," Allred said.

School officials, Allred said, have not responded to the request nor did they answer Eyewitness News' request for a comment.

Another group of alumni, the Horace Mann Action Coalition is retaining former prosecutor and Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder to also conduct an independent investigation.

"The only real goal was to make these stories go away and we just want to make sure that is not the case here," said Robert Boynton, a board member.

Even with the alleged abuse beyond the statute of limitations, Justice Snyder believes people will come forward.

"There will be ample people to come forward. You have seen that several of the survivors have gladly come forward," Crocker Snyder said.

"I want to make sure that everyone knows that the statue of limitations on childhood sexual abuse is a device that protects criminals," said Edward Bowen, a former student.

Both parties seeking the investigations also want the findings to be made public.

Allred said she represented 25 former students who are alleging they were abused, 3 women and 22 men. She said 20 of them have reached settlements with Horace Mann.