Dear members of the Milton Academy community,
In February 2017, we wrote to share with you the outcome of the T&M Protection Resources (T&M) independent fact-finding investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by former Milton faculty members. A link to that communication can be found here: https://www.milton.edu/news/resources-2017/ Since that communication, more people have come forward with additional information about allegations that surfaced as part of the initial investigation, as well as new allegations. As a result, T&M continued its investigation, and we are writing you today with a summary of what we have learned since February. We also want to share with you how we are continuing to respond to survivors and to take all actions possible so that such transgressions never happen again on our campus.
First and foremost, any allegation of sexual abuse of students by former Milton employees is deeply troubling, and while we know that words alone cannot right these wrongs, on behalf of the School and the Board of Trustees, we want to apologize, again, very sincerely to the victims of this abuse. The School failed in its duty to protect these young people, and we acknowledge the pain this failure has caused victims and their loved ones. We promise an unwavering commitment to prevent this from ever happening again.
As we shared in February, Milton learned from T&M’s investigation that a former faculty member, Rey Buono, sexually abused up to 12 students in the 1970s and 1980s, and that three other former faculty members engaged in sexual abuse or misconduct during that same time period. Following our February message, 51 individuals contacted T&M regarding Milton’s investigation and 14 of these individuals with new or additional information agreed to be interviewed by T&M. Two individuals with new information also contacted Milton directly. During T&M’s follow-up investigation, Milton learned that there were up to six additional student victims of sexual abuse or misconduct by Rey Buono during his employment at Milton. As far as we and T&M could determine, Milton had no knowledge of these latest allegations until now. It is our understanding that Buono is currently living abroad in Southeast Asia, and the appropriate state and federal authorities have been alerted. Milton has also alerted all of Buono’s former and subsequent employers so that they could conduct their own investigations. The School will continue to cooperate with federal and state authorities in their investigations of allegations relating to Buono.
T&M also received reports that two other former employees had sexually abused students in the 1980s. T&M investigated these reports but could not independently corroborate them based on the limited information received. One alleged perpetrator, a former faculty member, is deceased; the other alleged perpetrator is a former staff member. One victim confirmed never reporting the incident to Milton, and T&M was unable to corroborate whether the other victim had previously reported the incident to Milton. Since learning of these incidents as a part of the investigation, the School has followed its procedures for reporting these two allegations to state authorities. In our prior correspondence, we outlined the criteria (see FAQ below) by which the School determines whether to release the names of alleged perpetrators of abuse. In these two instances, given that the allegations could not be corroborated and to our knowledge do not present any present dangers, the School has decided that it would not be appropriate at this time to publically disclose these two names.
From the beginning of our investigation, we on campus have focused with intensity and energy on acknowledging our past mistakes, preventing further harm, and fostering care and healing. We responded, person by person, to many questions that came our way in the weeks following our February message, and we have tried to both support survivors and further ensure that students in our care today are safe. In our February communication we outlined some steps we planned to take to achieve these goals, and since then we have made much progress towards them:
• We have established a Healing and Safety Oversight Committee, comprised of administrators and trustees, to ensure that Milton continues to take appropriate actions regarding allegations of abuse and to ensure that current students are learning in a safe and secure environment. The Committee will consult with survivors and outside experts.
• The Healing and Safety Oversight Committee is contracting with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, with expertise in sexual assault prevention and response, to conduct a thorough review of the School’s policies, procedures, and trainings and to provide recommendations on best practices.
• Milton is working with survivors to engage with the healing process on any level at which they feel comfortable. In addition, Jamie Forbes ’85, will serve as a consultant to the School, providing a survivor’s perspective to our ongoing work with the investigation, including communications, policies and procedures.
• Pieh Commons, the lobby area in the Kellner Performing Arts center that had been named for former Headmaster Jerry Pieh, has been renamed The Arts Commons.
• For each allegation of abuse, Milton Academy notifies the appropriate authorities.
You can find more information on these action steps on this page on Milton’s website: https://www.milton.edu/news/resources-2017/
The T&M investigation is now complete, but the School will continue to provide periodic updates on our outreach and educational efforts. Moreover, the School strongly encourages anyone with information about sexual misconduct or other matters affecting the health and safety of our students to contact Deborah O’Toole at (617) 898-2286 or Deborah_Otoole@milton.edu, or to make a report through Ethics Point, our confidential online reporting service, which can be accessed through https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/default_reporter.asp
We remain grateful to so many courageous individuals who have come forward during this process, and to the broader Milton community for your continued support of this challenging and important effort.
Todd B. Bland
Head of School
Lisa Donohue ‘83
President of the Board of Trustees
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How will the School keep students safe from sexual misconduct?
The School has redoubled efforts—in employee training, student resource support, and curricular and extracurricular programming—aimed at educating and empowering both students and adults to speak up against any inappropriate behavior or activity.
We have previously shared with you a collection of resources on and off of Milton’s campus that support our focus and efforts.
The Healing and Safety Oversight Committee is contracting with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, with expertise in sexual assault prevention and response. This organization will work with faculty, staff and administrators over the coming year to assess our full range of policies, practices and programs. We want to ensure that Milton is always pursuing best practices, as they evolve over time.
Who is tending to this work?
Healing and Safety Oversight Committee
This spring, Milton’s Board of Trustees convened an official committee of administrators and trustees who, in consultation with clinical experts and survivors, are responding to the repercussions of the investigation and its findings. The Committee is charged with ensuring care for survivors, healing for the Milton community, and that Milton’s approach to student safety, now and into the future, is comprehensive, clearly articulated and effective.
The Healing and Safety Oversight Committee will be responsible for ensuring that Milton Academy —
● Addresses the impact on community members of sexual misconduct related to this investigation;
● Notifies authorities, legal and otherwise, regarding perpetrators;
● Engages in an external review of policies, procedures, practices and programs regarding the School’s approach to student safety, and
● Provides survivors the opportunity to help us evaluate policies, procedures, student programs and adult training that address student wellness and safety.
The Committee’s membership includes:
Stuart Mathews P’13 ‘17 ‘17, Trustee (co-chair)
Deborah O’Toole P’17, Chief Human Resources Officer (co-chair)
Robert Azeke ‘87, Trustee
David Ball ‘88, Upper School Principal
Heather Flewelling, Director of Multiculturalism and Community Development
Wendy Nicholson ‘86, Trustee
Sylvia Westphal P’18 ‘21 ‘25 ‘27 ‘27, Trustee
Risk and Audit Committee
Student safety issues will be a regular and discrete focus of the Risk and Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees. The Committee will institutionalize the review of policies aimed at student safety and ensure that the administration is held accountable for the implementation and quality of those policies.
What role do survivors have in institutional progress and healing?
Milton welcomes survivors to help us evaluate policies, procedures, student programs and adult training that address student wellness and safety. Their critically important perspectives inform all of our efforts towards making Milton a better and safer place for students. The Healing and Safety Oversight Committee will be overseeing this process. Jamie Forbes ‘85, who is a public survivor of Rey Buono, will speak with faculty and staff members this October about his experience; the crucial and positive role that his Milton friends played in his life; and the role we must all take in preventing sexual abuse and safeguarding the young people in our care.
What is the future of Pieh Commons?
The Board of Trustees has decided to rename Pieh Commons—the lobby area of the Kellner Performing Arts Center, which was dedicated to Mr. Pieh by the Board of Trustees in 1992—The Arts Commons. This new space, which has been reconfigured and refreshed, will be dedicated to the energy, beauty and truth in all art forms.
What legal or criminal processes are at work to bring the perpetrators to justice?
When Milton learns of suspected child abuse, the School files a report with the appropriate authorities, including the Milton Police Department and the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families. With regard to Rey Buono, who we understand currently resides overseas, the School has also contacted federal law enforcement authorities. Survivors who wish to pursue criminal prosecution of perpetrators should contact the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office or their local law enforcement officials. Milton will continue to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in their important work.
What was the criteria around naming perpetrators, which was outlined in the first message?
As we outlined in our February message, our decisions around naming perpetrators revealed in the investigation relied upon four criteria points:
1) the severity of the offense;
2) whether the individual engaged in sexual misconduct with students in repeated instances;
3) whether there exists a potential risk to public safety today; and
4) maintaining a victim’s request for privacy, where disclosure would compromise that privacy.
Much consideration went into the decision not to name publicly a perpetrator in the instances where naming the perpetrator would compromise the privacy, confidentiality and personal needs of the survivor. Conversations since with some of the survivors known to us have confirmed for us that decision.
What is the role of T&M Protection Resources going forward?
T&M’s official role in these efforts has ended, but the work of protecting our students never ends. Milton’s leadership—the head of school, administration and Board of Trustees—continues to encourage anyone with new or different information regarding circumstances of sexual misconduct at Milton—past, present or future—to come forward and share their information with us. Please contact Deborah O’Toole at (617) 898-2286 or Deborah_Otoole@milton.edu or Milton’s Ethics Point reporting site, which can be accessed through this https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/default_reporter.asp. Our overarching goal is to learn as much as we can about Milton’s past so that we can appropriately care for all members of our School community.
View more from the Healing and Safety Oversight Committee.