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Former Milton Academy teacher facing rape charge in Mass. returned to teaching in Maine

Reynold J. Buono leaves Norfolk County Superior Court in January 2019.Lane Turner/Globe Staff/file

A former Milton Academy drama teacher accused of raping a student decades ago in a high-profile case apparently returned briefly to teaching while awaiting trial, volunteering as an instructor for seniors enrolled in a remote program associated with the University of Southern Maine.

Reynold J. Buono, who was extradited to the United States from Thailand in 2018 after Norfolk County prosecutors levied charges that he repeatedly raped a student in the early 1980s, has been free on $50,000 bond while awaiting trial and is required to wear a GPS bracelet while living in Maine.

Buono, 75, was recently listed as an instructor for several theater and film classes offered by the University of Southern Maine Senior College at its Lewiston-Auburn campus. The school caters to adults over age 50 and is holding classes remotely at the moment, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to its website.

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Lucy Bisson, who leads the board of directors at the Senior College on the Lewiston-Auburn campus, told the Globe in an e-mail Wednesday evening that Buono’s courses “are currently cancelled,” but declined to comment further citing “internal personnel matters.”

“The Senior’s College strives to make the best decisions for our students, our community, and our all-volunteer faculty,” she wrote.

News of Buono’s teaching role prompted prosecutors to reexamine the guidelines associated with his bond agreement. The information also angered the attorney who represents several men — all former students — who say the were molested by Buono as teens.

“I’m just amazed that nothing is required apparently before they hire someone who is a known serial child molester,” attorney Eric MacLeish said Wednesday. “If they don’t even do a background check, they could Google these people,” he said. “He’s not doing this because he loves to teach. He was a predator first.”

Buono’s biography published in the college’s winter and spring catalogs describes him as an expert in Shakespeare, ancient Greek theater, modern drama, and Western and Asian cinema. It makes no mention of his pending criminal case.

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“Rey retired to Maine after over three decades teaching theater and film to undergraduates and professionals in South East Asia,” the biography says. “He approaches dramatic texts not only as a scholar, but as a theater practitioner.”

A spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said his office is looking into whether Buono’s teaching complied with the conditions of his release. “While this situation does not appear to impinge on the condition of release stipulating that he can have no unsupervised contact with children under 18,” the office said in a statement, prosecutors will review whether it is permissible employment or volunteer work.

In a statement, the University of Southern Maine said Buono is not and has never been employed the school or the University of Maine system, and that neither institution selects or approves teachers in the program. The Senior College at the school’s Lewiston-Auburn campus is a “separate, volunteer-run entity” which enlists volunteers to teach courses and uses office and instructional space provided by the University of Southern Maine, the statement said.

Buono’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, didn’t respond Wednesday to messages seeking comment. The Globe sent Buono a Facebook message seeking comment, which was not answered.

Milton Academy fired Buono in 1987 after he admitted to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy. He moved to Southeast Asia afterward, court papers said.

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The college’s winter course catalog said he was scheduled to teach a Shakespeare class via Zoom on Jan. 19 called “Juliet: An Actor Prepares.” A course list published in December by The Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine, said Buono was also teaching a class about “Hamlet” and a film course called “Hooray for Hollywood Screwball Comedies.”

Buono was indicted in 2017 after an investigation by a security consultant hired by Milton Academy determined that he had molested at least a dozen male students. The criminal case, however, focuses on allegations related to one former student.

Prosecutors allege Buono offered the 15-year-old boy — then in the ninth grade — beer and dinner, and sexually assaulted him during tutoring sessions at an on-campus apartment between September 1981 and July 1982.

In 2019, Jamie Forbes, a Milton native, publicly identified himself in a Globe interview as the former student in the case.

Though authorities traveled to Thailand to return Buono to the United States to answer the charges, the prosecution faced a major setback in December 2018 when a superior court judge dismissed the indictments on the grounds that prosecutors lacked the evidence for a case that fell outside the statute of limitations. The decision was appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court, which reinstated four of the charges last March and allowed the prosecution to proceed. Buono’s next hearing is scheduled for March 4.

Prior to working at Milton Academy, Buono taught at Saint David’s School in New York City, according to MacLeish and court records.

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In a lawsuit filed in New York last year, a man who attended the private school between 1965 and 1973 alleged Buono was his homeroom teacher in fifth grade and molested him.

The school didn’t respond Wednesday to a request for comment. In August, Saint David’s School issued a statement to the New York Post that said it has asked community members to report abuse allegations to the school.


Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.