NY Post Reports on Lawsuit Filed by Alan Sash on Behalf of Client Under the Child Victim’s Act
Elite school that teaches Tom Brady’s son ‘failed to stop pedophile teacher’
By Kathianne Boniello – NY Post
Peter Defeo III remembers the moment, 50 years ago, when he thought his real-life nightmare would end.
He was alone at Manhattan’s prestigious Saint David’s School with teacher Robert Ludlow, as Ludlow once again molested him.
The terrified 8-year-old made eye contact through an open classroom door with a female administrator in the hall.
“I was hopeful that [she] would turn around and do something,” he told The Post.
Instead, she walked away, leaving DeFeo feeling “like I was totally alone on the planet.”
DeFeo, 59, detailed the horrific abuse in a $20 million Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed Saturday against the elite Upper East Side school, a bastion of privilege where Tom Brady’s son is a student and the late John F. Kennedy Jr. an alum.
Administrators of the $50,000-year-tuition, all-boys school knew of pedophiles like Ludlow in their midst and failed to act, DeFeo alleges.
A dyslexic DeFeo frequently left class unsupervised for offsite tutoring. Ludlow — who died in the 1990s — found the boy wandering the halls with a yo-yo.
The fourth-grade teacher rattled off addresses for the third-grader’s home and his father’s office, threatening to kill the boy’s family — then groped him, according to court papers.
“He scared the sh-t out of me from the gitgo,” said DeFeo.
The abuse continued for two years until Ludlow suddenly disappeared from school in 1971 after another victim’s parents made a fuss, DeFeo charges in the lawsuit filed under New York’s Child Victims Act, which creates a legal window to revive old sex-abuse cases.
At the time, DeFeo didn’t even know the names for the sexual acts the balding, bespectacled Ludlow forced upon him.
“I knew everything that was going on was wrong, but I didn’t have anybody I trusted that I could turn to,” he said. “I thought I was the only one. I can’t stress enough how this incident really shaped my entire life.”
DeFeo left Saint David’s for a boarding school. He began drinking at age 12, abused drugs, has been hospitalized for depression and has been unable to keep a job or relationship, he said.
Saint David’s didn’t tell police, or anyone else, about the abuse allegations, and instead “deliberately unleashed … an active pedophile” on the public — then, “incredibly,” replaced Ludlow with another pedophile teacher, DeFeo alleges in court papers.
Teacher Reynold Buono did not replace Ludlow but worked at Saint David’s from 1967 to 1975. His father, Frank Buono, was warden of Rikers Island.
Buono, 74, eventually left Saint David’s to work at the famed Milton Academy in Massachusetts, where in the 1980s he allegedly sexually assaulted more than a dozen students, including on bicycle trips to Europe. After being extradited from Thailand in 2018, he faces child rape charges.
“He was a monster,” said lawyer Eric MacLeish, who represents victims from Milton Academy.
DeFeo was in Buono’s classroom back at Saint David’s, where the teacher once invited him on a cycling trip but withdrew the offer.
“I’m just lucky Buono didn’t … start off where Ludlow left off,” DeFeo, a computer consultant, said.
In December Saint David’s sent a letter to alumni, falsely claiming to have only recently learned of abuse allegations against one teacher, according to DeFeo’s lawyers, Alan Sash and Gil Santamarina.
“I am proud to represent Pete,” said Sash. “Justice for him is long overdue.”
The December letter “encouraged any individual who had experienced or was aware of inappropriate conduct by anyone while at the school to contact us,” Saint David’s said in a statement, noting the school is “committed” to investigating allegations and “we recognize that as a school community we have a responsibility to make sure victims of sexual abuse are heard.”