Jamie Forbes - September 30, 2022
Warning: the following content describes sexual abuse and the impact it has had on other’s lives. Some may find it upsetting.
Last Friday, I sat in a courtroom with the man who sexually abused me. It was the first time since I graduated from high school - more than 37 years - that I had seen him in person. This was the culmination of a 5-year criminal case against Rey Buono, the teacher who repeatedly raped me when I was in 9th grade.
What follows are three Victim Impact Statements. These are letters written by survivors to the judge to describe the impact that the crime being discussed had on them. I share these Impact Statements because they each illustrate a different perspective. They are powerful stories that I hope promote conversation and understanding.
There is so much discomfort that people feel when talking about sex. It’s even more challenging to talk about sexual abuse. Talking about sex and sexual abuse, over time, can reduce the discomfort, and it certainly helps to reduce the shame for survivors. Talking about it helps kids understand the issue; it helps build a vocabulary and trust with adults. Most importantly, talking about sex and sexual abuse is the best way to protect the people we love.
It is in this context that I share with you what I, along with two others who were also abused by Rey Buono, said in court. Each statement is different, and together they provide poignant and moving insight into how the abuse affected each of us and many, many others who still suffer in silence.
My Impact Statement
It has been more than 40 years since Rey Buono repeatedly raped me, and not a day goes by that some aspect of his sexual, physical and emotionally abusive behavior doesn’t haunt me. The first time he laid his hands on me, I was terrified. I didn’t know what I had done to make him think I would want that. It rocked me to the core because it made me question so much in my life I thought I knew about myself.
When Rey touched me that first time, he stole my childhood. When he invited me to his apartment, suggesting he could help me prepare for my history test, where he raped me the first time, he stole my voice. When he did it again and again, he shattered my ability to love and trust myself.
I have spent my life since then trying to reclaim what Rey Buono stole from me, trying to scrub the shame that seeped into every thought as I tried to process who I was. Before he stole my childhood and my voice and burdened me with a shame that suffocated me, I looked to older adults to help me understand life and how to navigate it. After he repeatedly raped me, I didn’t trust adults to care for me. I avoided people in positions of authority. In fact, I actively passed up opportunities to become a leader because leaders, to me, were not trustworthy.
When I most needed mentors in my life, I shied away from finding them because Rey showed me they were dangerous.
If it weren’t for my friends, I am sure I would have spiraled into a darker place. They prevented that. In school they were my protection, my solace, my reassurance that I wasn’t as damaged as I felt inside because of what he did to me. My friendships fortified and protected me against the shame and self-doubt that he forced on me. While I have made a lot of progress, I still carry those feelings with me every day because of what he did.
Telling people that Rey raped me has been an important part of my healing. When I posted on Facebook that I was one of the many people he abused, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. I was also struck by the number of other people who reached out to me who he had abused. I heard their stories. Most of them were tragically familiar to me. Still others were much worse and left survivors addicted, homeless and suicidal.
Hearing from some of the others he raped gave me some comfort, knowing I wasn’t alone in my experience. Every time I think about what he did to me and to so many others, I taste the bile of disgust and revulsion. Today I am here, able to read this statement with anger fueled not just by the devastation he caused in my life but also by the wake of pain and suffering for the unnamed others who are unable to stand and speak with me today about what he did to them. I share my words today in solidarity with them and because it is impossible for me to separate what he did to me from what he did to so many others.
When Rey Buono raped me, he turned me into a self-doubting shame machine. At a time I should have been thriving, all I could see of myself was a vulnerable kid who didn’t have much to offer the world. I have spent the majority of my life rewiring the connections in my brain so I no longer have to listen to a constant litany of critical voices. But they still creep in from time to time, and I blame him for that.
I am a firm believer in the mind-body connection. Scientists have concluded that child sex abuse survivors are 49% more likely to get cancer than those who were not abused. Is it also his fault, therefore, that I developed a particularly aggressive form of prostate cancer when I was 46? I have been living with cancer for nearly 10 years. While I’m still ALIVE, I have Stage 4 cancer, which has spread to my bones.
If Rey had anything to do with my cancer, then he not only stole my youth, but he quite likely also stole my ability to watch my daughters become adults and have their own families. Rey has stolen my ability to nurture and love my wife as we grow old together. He has stolen experiences and emotions that I will never have. I can absorb the impacts that his actions had on me, but it’s nearly intolerable for me to imagine the tremendous impact Rey continues to have on my family.
I wish Rey Buono were going to jail with the other criminals who are unfit to live in society. It’s where he belongs. But instead I have to settle for knowing that his admission to repeatedly raping me is as good as an admission to stealing so many other childhoods. Rey’s admission of guilt means he’s no longer fighting against the truth. And that means I don’t have to fight for justice any more. It means I’ll have more strength to fight cancer instead and hope that I’ll be able to enjoy more time with my wife and get to watch my daughters raise their own families.
I will walk out of here with my head held high. And Rey is incredibly lucky that he gets to walk out of here with his hands free instead of into a jail cell. I hope in whatever years he has remaining, he will spend the majority of it being someone who doesn’t hurt people, motivated by the knowledge that he has a lot of deep and widespread pain to make up for.
Important Note - For the sake of clarity - particularly to those I know personally - I want to assure you that, while what I wrote about my cancer is true, I have every intention of eradicating it from my body. While I’ve had cancer in my bones for the past 3 years, it has not grown since it was detected there. My treatments are working. And while current medical protocols have been unable to cure metastatic prostate cancer, I fully believe in the power of the body to heal. I have already defied the medical survivability statistics. With this court case resolved, I will have more energy to focus on making my body inhospitable to cancer. And I plan to do just that.
Beau Ryan’s Impact Statement
It was some 48 years ago, when as a young, physically and emotionally immature boy, I was molested and raped for the first of many times by Rey Buono. Rey was the “floor master” in my dorm and in an ideal position to get me into his apartment and abuse me. In doing so, he destroyed my adolescence and almost my life. The shame and confusion I felt was immense and unbearable.
At that age, I should have been taken care of, not taken advantage of. After barely graduating from Milton, my life went on a downward spiral of drugs and self destruction……ultimately ending up with me living on the streets strung out on heroin. Thankfully, at some point, I was able to decide that I wanted to live, not die or go to jail.
My life and my relationships have all been tainted by my rage at what Rey did to me all those years ago. I have spent countless years in therapy trying to let go of some of these feelings. The things that I wish I could have said back then: get your hands off me, stop that, leave me alone, are things that haunt me to this day. I wish I could speak directly to Rey and tell him exactly what I think of him and what he did to me. I wish I could show the court my 1977 yearbook in which a picture of Rey sitting on the grass leaning against a tree was inscribed by him to me: “the pleasure was all mine”. I wish I could let out all the anger, rage and pain on him. Because that is what I am feeling standing here. I am just lucky to have an amazing and eternally supportive wife and family.
I would like to thank the court for the opportunity to make this statement. I would also like to thank Lisa Beattie and Kristin Collins for advocating for me to have this chance. It means the world to me and something I never thought possible. One of the most difficult things, in the last 6 years especially, has been the feelings of helplessness. Due to the unfortunate timing of the statutes of limitations at the time, I could not bring charges against Rey now. Since he was extradited, I have hoped that I might get a chance to testify at his trial. I have done my best to support Jamie and the DA’s office……but that really didn’t and wasn’t going to help me resolve my conflict and frustration. In some small way this does.
It is my firm conviction that I am only one of potentially dozens or even hundreds of victims of Rey’s, not just here in the US, but overseas. I believe that he belongs in prison for the rest of his life. It’s unfortunate that only recently have enough of these cases come to light that the laws and statutes are changing. This plea is a gift…….it does not compare to the extreme damage that he has caused. However, I do take some solace from the fact that he will have to suffer some consequences of his actions and not be able to walk free and continue his destruction.
David Saltonstall’s Impact Statement
My name is David Saltonstall, and Rey Buono abused me for five years of my life, starting when I was a child of 13.
I have not spoken these words publicly until today, but let me be crystal clear: Rey Buono’s pattern of abuse over many years robbed scores of children of their innocence, including mine. He has said over the years that he never touched anyone without their consent, which is as cynical as it is offensive. The concept of consent has no meaning for a child, who has no capacity to give it. There is only fear and innocence at that age – fear of disappointing someone who you thought was a trusted mentor, fear of being found out, and innocence surrounding the physical abuse that is suddenly, inexplicably, being forced upon you.
While much has been established about Buono’s years of abuse at Milton Academy, I want to make clear that there remains another mostly silent group of children that Buono abused in his typically calculated way. I was not a student at Milton Academy. I was a young person from another school who joined one of the bike tours he led in the summer. In that way, my story is exactly like Jamie Forbes’ – days of biking, the introduction of alcohol by Buono at night, and then a pairing up into tents that for Buono became the perfect, predatory trap. It is where I was abused for the first time, and I feel confident in telling the court that there are many other “bike kids” who like me had no connection to Milton but remain scarred and alive. Some may have no idea this proceeding is happening today because they have no formal connection to Milton, so as a survivor I stand for them as well in giving voice to Buono’s predations.
I am grateful that with today’s proceeding, Rey Buono’s webs have all come undone. All his cowardice and running have been overtaken by the bravery of those who refused to let justice be deferred any longer. I know in my heart that in confessing to some small subset of charges today, he is confessing to all in the eyes of his many victims. I hope the sounds of their anguish will ring in his ears every hour of every day, like the rattle of his father’s old key chain, and haunt him for the rest of his days.
Sincerely, David Saltonstall
I didn’t know either of these men before I returned to Milton Academy in 2016 to tell them about being sexually abused by Rey Buono. While shame kept us apart for more than 30 years and prevented us from creating community through our shared experience, this shared experience, as tragic as it is, has brought us together. I salute Beau and David and send strength and light out to all survivors who feel unable to push beyond shame to find healing and community. May you someday find comfort in sharing your story with others so that you, too, may feel the power of community and the promise of healing through storytelling.