NEW YORK — Tek Young Lin was revered at the Horace Mann School. He was different from other teachers — a Buddhist who carefully tended to his elaborate gardens, a chaplain and a cross-country coach. He was so beloved that the English department chairmanship was named in his honor.
But there was something else about Lin: a focus he placed on certain students, a fascination that some said looked like infatuation.
Last week, in an interview, Lin, now 88, acknowledged that there was something to those whispers. He said he had had sex with students, “maybe three, I don’t know,” crossing boundaries he said were not so clear years ago.
“In those days, it was very spontaneous and casual, and it did not seem really wrong,” he said.
A New York Times Magazine article this month that exposed sexual abuse at Horace Mann, a preparatory school in the Bronx borough, has spurred thousands of alumni to air their feelings online and a number of victims to reach out to one another. Two law enforcement agencies have opened Horace Mann abuse hotlines. The school has pledged to “work together to understand what may have happened and why,” and last week, after accusations against Lin began to surface in online postings, Horace Mann removed his name from the English department chairmanship.
The teachers named in the magazine article, which recounted abuse that occurred 20 or more years ago, are all dead. But since its publication, some graduates of the school have made accusations against former teachers who are still alive, including Lin.
Because of New York’s statutes of limitations, it is unlikely that Lin could be prosecuted or sued for any actions that occurred when he was at Horace Mann; he retired voluntarily in 1986.
The Times has interviewed three former students who described inappropriate contact by Lin. One said he refused Lin’s request for sex; another said there had been physical contact, but no sex. One, who said he was 14 or 15 when the inappropriate contact began, said that Lin had sexual contact with him several times over several months, and that they had had a relationship that lasted years.
Lin, who lives near Santa Cruz, Calif., said no coercion had been used. “The only thing I can assure you of was that everything I did was in warmth and affection and not a power play,” he said. “I may have crossed societal boundaries. If I did, I am sorry.”
A spokesman for the school’s public relations firm said: “If what Mr. Lin has told The New York Times is true, the conduct in which he says he engaged was appalling.”