DEDHAM — Three decades ago, theater program director Reynold Buono left Milton Academy and decamped for southeast Asia in disgrace after he acknowledged molesting a freshman student, prosecutors said.
On Wednesday, Buono, now 72, faced a new reckoning from his troubled tenure at the elite private school as he was arraigned on charges of repeatedly raping a different student in 1981 and 1982. Authorities traveled to Thailand to arrest Buono and bring him to Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham, where he appeared in handcuffs, sweatpants, and a matching sweatshirt.
“The damage he did to people and the lives he destroyed are incalculable,” said attorney Eric MacLeish, who represents five former students who have accused Buono of sexual misconduct. “Like many of these predators, he knew exactly who to target.”
Court records filed in the case said Milton Academy’s headmaster knew Buono was allegedly abusing the student as early as 1982 but let him remain on staff after he spoke to Buono’s psychiatrist.
Five years later, the headmaster fired Buono after he admitted to sexually assaulting a different student, Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Lisa Beatty wrote in court papers.
The headmaster isn’t identified in the documents, but Jerome A. Pieh served in that position from 1973 to 1991, the Globe has reported. He didn’t return a message Wednesday.
Last year, an investigation conducted by a private security company hired by Milton Academy found that Pieh had “some knowledge of Buono’s misconduct in 1982” but didn’t fire him until 1987 when he learned that the freshman student had been abused.
Buono pleaded not guilty to three counts of rape of a child and three counts of rape of a child with force. He was ordered held without bail pending a hearing on July 18. A grand jury returned the indictments in November, but they weren’t made public until Tuesday night, prosecutors said.
His defense attorney, Inga Bernstein, said she knew few details about the accusations.
Among the spectators in court was a Milton Academy graduate who said Buono molested him in the 1970s.
The man, who asked not to be named, said he was grateful to the police and prosecutors who returned Buono to Massachusetts to face a judge.
“I hope that other people are going to come forward,” he said.
Court records show the indictments involve one former Milton Academy student who Buono allegedly attacked between September 1981 and July 1982.
The former student attended the school between 1978 and 1985 when he graduated, Beatty wrote in court papers. Investigators interviewed him in April 2017.
In 1981, when he was 15 years old, the former student told police he traveled to Italy on a bicycle trip with Buono, who arranged for them to share a bed.
After a night of drinking, Buono allegedly attacked the student, who disclosed the sexual assault to a close friend, Beatty wrote. The friend confronted Buono, who acknowledged what he did and promised not to do it again, she wrote.
Buono later became the student’s tutor and academic adviser and hosted him at his apartment in Milton, where he offered him beer and dinner, Beatty wrote. Prosecutors allege Buono attacked the student while tutoring him.
The student continued to tell his friend about the abuse. The friend told his own mother about Buono’s alleged misconduct. In the spring of 1982, the families of the student and the friend approached Milton Academy about Buono, Beatty wrote.
“The defendant did not deny touching students, but told the administrator that he always stopped when asked,” Beatty wrote.
Buono was removed as the student’s academic adviser but remained employed by the school, prosecutors said. Authorities interviewed other male students who have accused Buono of sexual abuse, but didn’t bring charges because either the statute of limitations expired or the alleged incidents happened outside Norfolk County, Beatty wrote.
In a letter issued Wednesday, Milton Academy cited the 2017 investigation that found Buono molested students during his tenure from 1973 to 1987, and expressed support for the police and survivors who helped prosecutors secure the indictments. An October 2017 letter from the school said Buono sexually abused at least 18 students.