A retired teacher - I'll call this person "Teacher" to preserve anonymity - decided to break the silence and tell me more about teaching at Saint David's in the 1970s, where four male teachers have been accused of raping boys who were as young as eight years old.
Teacher said to me:
It is of concern that it has gone on so long. The trustees must not be very active people that they haven’t solved this yet ... These boys [the adult male survivors of abuse at Saint David's] should be given money for therapy. Because many of them are really crushed personalities who haven’t gone on to fill their true potential ...
I did know something about Rey Buono because he was going around with a couple of friends of mine, and somebody let slip something to me... I knew that he was somebody that had to be watched.
And so I decided to again reach out to all the "boys" who may have been overlooked in this nearly year-long conflict with Saint David's.
Please direct anyone you know who is involved in #metoo to read and share this too.
(photo by Charles Huschle)
Dear friends, alumni I’ve never met, journalists, and others in the Saint David’s community,
I hope this note finds you well.
I first wrote you in February after finding your contact info online, regarding Saint David’s letter of December 11, 2019, describing an instance of sex abuse at the school in the 1970s by a deceased teacher.
I was able to reach about fifty of you then. (As before, please feel free to forward this email to any in your circle connected to Saint David’s.)
Sent as it was on a late December afternoon just before Christmas, I discovered that that email reached less than half of its intended recipients. I contacted you and the school to ask about the other perpetrator, very much alive, who was not mentioned in the school’s letter: Rey Buono, currently arrested in MA awaiting trial on child rape charges at Milton Academy.
Buono left Saint David’s to teach at Milton around 1973, while also continuing his summer bike trips with Saint David’s students, and students from other schools. Subsequently he lived in Malaysia for many years before Milton began an investigation of Buono at the behest of abused students, and he was extradited back to the US to face charges two years ago. (All of this is on my website, www.charleshuschle.com).
I received many responses from you, such as:
Your note got me to scratch my head a bit, since Class of '72 lost several boys along the way, all left the school suddenly...
I have some things to share. It is difficult to talk about ...
Thank you for the email carrying very sad and terrible news about the abuse suffered by our friends and classmates.
Your email was a devastating piece of news. I considered Rey Buono a mentor and the teacher who had the biggest effect on my life.
I hope those who have been assaulted can be found and agree to come forward.
The mother of one of my class mates went to (Headmaster) David Hume after her son was abused on a bike trip in 1976 - and Hume did nothing; at that point, though, Buono was not technically or formally employed by Saint David’s but DID have Saint David’s approval for those trips. I wonder if Hume wrote a reference for Buono to Milton?
Let me state this up front, he did not rape or attempt to molest me in any way. That being said, after I grew older, I thought it was peculiar he would invite boys (7th and 8th graders, myself included) to his apartment in the building next door at 22 East 89th
We went to a beautiful home, somewhere in Connecticut, on a lake, and there was a sauna, and the name of the weekend was the "shakedown cruise." At a teacher's house. So it was Rey and the kids, and the trips I went on there were the Milton kids, high school kids, and the Saint David's boys. And there was a sauna and we all went in, naked you know, and you can imagine Rey pitching it as a 'great tradition' or whatever, and I think it was a shakedown cruise for him too...
(Warning: here is Rey Buono being very scary, in my opinion,
on his YouTube channel which has 852 subscribers, from 2011)
It's gut wrenching when you hear these monstrous acts happened at any school, but when it now includes your own beloved school and your own beloved teacher, it pulls you inside out.
A few days after my 2/22/20 email, Teacher called me to tell me that the Kamal brothers (St D Classes of ’78 and ’80) were assisting Pete DeFeo (’75) in what was the first claim against Saint David’s for harboring a sex offender (the deceased Bob Ludlow) back in the ‘70s. They were invoking the Child Victim Act in NY, which extends the statute of limitations on filing civil claims against sex offenders and their employers back to the 1970s.
Since emailing you, FIVE Saint David’s men from the 1970s have approached me with stories of abuse by Ludlow, Buono, and a music teacher named Chuck Jones. Three others have filed legal claims in court against the school (the civil complaints can be found on my website and are also publicly available on the NY Court websites). Others may also be involved – I am not privy to any information beyond what has been reported by the men who contacted me.
A fourth teacher, Charlie Rich, has also been named as a sex crimes perpetrator at Saint David’s. The whereabouts of Jones and Rich are unknown.
Two articles have appeared in the New York Post, in late May and early July, describing DeFeo’s and another alumnus’ complaints, and I have written extensively on my own blog and website. The situation has also drawn the attention of lawyer Eric MacLeish, well-known for having brought victims’ claims against the Catholic Church in Boston in the early 2000’s.
"If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one" - Mitch Garabedian as quoted from the film "Spotlight."
On May 30th, Headmaster O’Halloran and Board President Daniel Connolly responded to the first Post article thus: “Saint David’s is committed to investigating any allegations that we receive.... We recognize that as a school community we have a responsibility to make sure victims of sexual abuse are heard.”
Based on the school’s behavior, those statements are grossly false. Saint David’s has done nothing to investigate Buono, Jones, Ludlow, or Rich. Saint David’s counsel, Sullivan and Cromwell, was hired not to help alumni but to defend against them. Please ask them about this, should you contact the school.
To date, victims have reported to me that Saint David’s response has been adversarial. The school has not responded to my and others’ requests to “Do the right thing” by its alumni.
It is also apparent that, on advice of its counsel, the school has drawn out the potential mediation process as long as possible. (But due to the delays of COVID, survivors may still bring cases forward through 2021, good news for anyone else who wishes to respond.)
What does it mean to “Do the right thing” in this situation? I invite your responses.
I have these thoughts: even though the current administration and board of trustees were not in charge in the 1970s, they have inherited a legacy they cannot disown.
The school should apologize to the men who were abused; accept their stories as truth; actively investigate the allegations against Rey Buono (as Milton Academy did); listen; make a public statement of support; and compensate survivors.
Why compensate? Because often the victims of rape are told to shut up, that they brought the rape on themselves, that they need to “grow up” and “get over it” ... and as a result, many turn to drugs or alcohol or other addictions for solace, or they experience broken relationships and lost jobs, depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts. Let’s be clear that these rape victims were boys aged 9 – 12.
Compensation, in short, can help pay for therapy, lost years of work, and be symbolic of restitution.
The school could become an avid supporter of survivors, rather than tacitly abuse them again by fighting their claims. The school could become a thought-leader on helping survivors. The school could create a fund for survivors to draw upon, besides directly compensating each of the survivors who have decided to speak out. The school could even fund a recovery house, a place for survivors to retreat for a few days or to begin to find resources for therapy and recovery.
The school has an endowment of about $70M. It’s not lacking in funds. Its refusal to listen to alumni survivors is therefore perplexing, if not inexcusable.
Unfortunately, all of this is not new to the world of private schools, or the world in general. St. Paul’s, Horace Mann, Pingree, Andover, Exeter, Milton ... all have experienced similar situations. Some have responded nobly, and some have responded execrably.
This is all #metoo. And remember, especially if you are a survivor, that “metoo” means that you are not alone.
But what do you think? How might Saint David’s make amends to its alumni?
I invite your thoughts, your feedback, and your collaboration. I invite you to look over the timeline and facts of this situation, and to contact Saint David’s with your reactions.
I also respect your need for privacy, always.
This is hard stuff to take in, potentially triggering, and upsetting. It’s also normal not to want to become involved, even when you’re a victim. [Some stats: among victims, 20% fear retaliation if they report a rape, 13% believe no one will help (police, specifically), 8% believe it’s not important, and 13% believe it’s a “personal matter.” (https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system).
Toni Morrison, as quoted by the writer Junot Diaz in his great article on his own abuse in The New Yorker (April 16, 2018), writes: "Anything dead coming back to life hurts."
We’re in difficult times, of course, and yet the past does not go away, and neither does its effect on us male survivors. At Saint David’s we were taught – and apparently it is still taught – that to be compassionate we could try to walk in another’s shoes.
Right now, the Saint David’s administration, trustees, and counsel, are doing the opposite. The school is not “walking the talk” of its statements of ethics and values that pepper its website and publications.
Let’s help the school remember.
Saint David’s Class of 1976
Academic Achievement Award
St. Sebastian Award (sports)
7thGrade Religion Essay Prize Winner
for timeline, info, and blog about it all
Important Contact Information
Headmaster David O’Halloran: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel.212-369-0058, fax 646-952-4896
Alumni Director John Dearie, email@example.com
Assistant Director of Development J.P. Hormillosa, firstname.lastname@example.org
Board President Daniel Connolly, email@example.com, tel. 212-508-6104, fax 212-938-3804
Attorney Sharon Nelles, Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 212-558-4000
Assistant DA Nicole Blumberg, BlumbergN@dany.nyc.gov, at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for sex crimes, 212-335-9000