DEDHAM — As his brother, college roommate, and another longtime friend looked on, a former Milton Academy drama teacher was ordered held Wednesday on $50,000 bail on allegations that he raped a student at the elite private school more than 35 years ago.
Reynold Buono, 72, was returned to the United States last month from his home in Thailand after a grand jury in Norfolk County indicted him on charges related to alleged attacks on the teenage boy in 1981 and 1982.
He has pleaded not guilty and was initially held without bail pending Wednesday’s hearing in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham. Buono was fired from his job at Milton Academy in 1987 after he admitted sexually assaulting a different boy, who was 15 years old, and he moved to Southeast Asia shortly afterward, prosecutors said in court papers.
Defense attorney Inga Bernstein asked for $25,000 bail, the amount raised for Buono by friends and family. Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Lisa Beatty said bail should be set at $1 million to ensure that he wouldn’t flee while awaiting trial.
In imposing $50,000 bail, Superior Court Judge Peter Krupp said if Buono were to post that sum, he would be mostly confined to house arrest and required to wear a GPS tracking device and follow other conditions.
Attorney Eric MacLeish, who represents six former Milton Academy students who have accused Buono of sexual misconduct, said bail was set too low.
“It is entirely possible that he will be released pending trial,” MacLeish said in an e-mail. “Based on the horrific information provided to me by six individuals that he has molested, I believe that he is not only a flight risk but that he is capable of further crimes against children. What he did to children in Massachusetts is simply repulsive and beyond comprehension.”
The bail money raised for Buono includes funds contributed by his younger brother, Bruce, a retired Air Force officer, and $2,500 from a friend who traveled from Maine to attend the bail hearing. Bruce Buono, the friend from Maine, and another supporter who attended the hearing declined to comment.
Bernstein said she was appreciative of Krupp’s decision to set bail, but didn’t know if Buono could post $50,000. If he does, Buono’s supporters have found temporary housing for him in Brockton, she said.
“He will abide by any condition of the court,” Bernstein said. “Everything he’s doing is oriented to setting up a life here so he can answer these charges.”
A pretrial conference was scheduled for Aug. 22.
Milton Academy revealed last year that Buono had molested at least 18 students while employed at the school between 1973 and 1987.
The child rape indictments involve a student who attended Milton Academy between 1978 and 1985, when he graduated, court papers show. 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, Beatty wrote in court papers.
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, according to the prosecution.
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. 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, prosecutors said. In the spring of 1982, the families of the student and the friend approached Milton Academy about Buono, Beatty wrote. He didn’t deny touching students, but asserted he always stopped when asked, according to the prosecution.
Buono was removed as the student’s academic adviser but remained employed by the school, Beatty wrote.
The grand jury indicted him last November, prompting US authorities to revoke his passport. Thai authorities then revoked Buono’s visa and deported him, court papers show.