At Milton Academy, more accusations of sexual misconduct surface
Six more former students at Milton Academy have come forward to say they were the victims of sexual abuse or misconduct by the then-head of the private school’s theater program decades ago, the school said in a letter sent Tuesday.
In a statement e-mailed to current and former parents, faculty, and alumni, the school said it has learned from a follow-up investigation conducted by a security consultant that “there were up to six additional student victims of sexual abuse or misconduct by Rey Buono during his employment at Milton.”
Buono served as the head of the school’s theater program from 1975 to 1987.
In February, the school, following an investigation administered by T&M Protection Resources, said that Buono sexually abused up to 12 students during the 1970s and 1980s and that “three other former faculty members engaged in sexual abuse or misconduct during that same time period.”
After those allegations surfaced, the school said 51 people contacted T&M about its investigation at the prestigious K-12 boarding and day school. Of that number, 14 people with new or additional information agreed to be interviewed by T&M.
Two others with new information contacted the Milton Academy directly.
During the consultant’s follow-up investigation, the school learned of more alleged victims, according to the school’s letter, which was signed by the head of school, Todd B. Bland, and president of the school’s board of trustees, Lisa Donohue.
“As far as we and T&M could determine, Milton had no knowledge of these latest allegations until now,” the school said in its letter.
The school believes Buono is living in Southeast Asia. Milton has contacted state and federal authorities about the new allegations. Milton Academy said it also alerted all of Buono’s former and subsequent employers.
Eric MacLeish, a local attorney who is representing two of Buono’s victims, called the former theater director a “serial predator” during a phone interview Tuesday evening.
“Nothing about Rey Buono would surprise me,” he said. “He was a monster.”
MacLeish said Buono continued to molest children after he left Milton Academy. He harmed “dozens and dozens of people’s lives” said MacLeish. He said the way in which he was terminated from his Milton job allowed him to continue to work in education.
“This is a shameful period of Milton’s history,” said MacLeish, who has represented hundreds of sexual abuse victims.
A message left with Buono’s attorney, Datuk N. Sivananthan of Malaysia, was not immediately returned Tuesday night.
Earlier this year, Sivananthan rejected T&M’s findings.
“My client notes that the investigation and purported findings were by a private entity and notes that to date no criminal complaint has been filed against him,” Sivananthan told the Straits Times of Singapore in February.
In its follow-up investigation to the February allegations, T&M also received reports that two other former Milton employees had sexually abused students during the 1980s, according to Milton’s letter.
The consultant looked into those allegations but could not independently corroborate them, the school said. One of the alleged perpetrators is dead, according to the academy. The school did not disclose the names of those two former employees because “the allegations could not be corroborated and to our knowledge do not present any present dangers.”
The school, in the letter, said any allegation “of sexual abuse of students by former Milton employees is deeply troubling.” The academy once again apologized to the victims and acknowledged that the school “failed in its duty to protect these young people.”
“We promise an unwavering commitment to prevent this from ever happening again,” the school said in its letter.
Earlier this year, T&M found that Jerome A. Pieh, headmaster of Milton Academy from 1973 to 1991, “had some knowledge of Rey Buono’s misconduct in 1982,” but Buono continued to work there for five more years.
Milton, in its latest letter, said the former Pieh Commons, which was the lobby area in the school’s Kellner Performing Arts Center, has been renamed The Arts Commons in the aftermath of the investigation. The school has also hired Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network to review the school’s policies and procedures and to provide recommendations on best practices.
Tuesday’s letter was the latest apology from an elite private school in New England following allegations of sexual abuse. Dozens of schools launched investigations in response to a Boston Globe series last year that found staff at more than 110 private schools in New England have faced allegations of sexual misconduct over the past 25 years.