DEDHAM – A retired drama instructor and former Milton Academy teacher accused of sexually assaulting boys in two states pleaded guilty Friday in Norfolk Superior Court as his now-adult victims spoke about the impact his abuse had on their lives.
"It has been more than 40 years since Rey Buono repeatedly raped me, and not a day goes by that some aspect ... of his behavior doesn't haunt me," one victim told a judge Friday. "It rocked me to the core because it made me question so much about my life. When he touched me that first time, he stole my childhood. ... He stole my voice. ... He shattered my ability to love and trust myself. I have spent years since then trying to reclaim what he stole from me."
Reynold Buono, who has been free on bail while awaiting trial, changed his plea to guilty Friday when faced with two counts of rape of a child with force.
In a deal with the district attorney's office, Buono, 77, will spend five years on probation; submit a DNA sample; have no contact with victims; have to register as a sex offender; wear a GPS monitor; not go to Milton or Rockingham County, New Hampshire; undergo sex offender treatment; not work or volunteer with anyone under the age of 18; and not apply for a passport or leave the contiguous United States.
If he doesn't violate probation "a single time," Norfolk Superior Court Judge Beverly Cannone said, she would consider removing the GPS monitor after three years, when Buono is 80 years old.
Defense lawyer Kevin Reddington called his client the "epitome of a gentleman."
Buono was extradited to the United States from Thailand in 2017 after a district attorney and Milton police investigated allegations by a former student at Milton Academy in the early 1980s. A then-14-year-old defendant told prosecutors that Buono sexually assaulted him multiple times and gave him alcohol. Assistant District Attorney Lisa Beatty said several other students have accused him of similar behavior.
A judge threw out all charges against him in 2019, but the state Supreme Judicial Court reinstated two counts of forcible rape of a child and two counts of rape of a child. Massachusetts abolished the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse, but most of the Milton Academy cases preceded the change in law and are too old to be prosecuted, lawyer Eric MacLeish said last year.
Buono headed the school’s theater program for more than a decade.Beatty said Milton Academy was aware of his behavior but allowed him to keep working for some time. Milton Academy said in February 2017 that independent investigators have determined Buono molested at least a dozen male students.
A former student who sued an elite private school in New York City also names Buono as an abuser. That lawsuit was settled in 2021. The settlement was confidential.
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Two victims spoke in court Friday and a third submitted a written statement, which Beatty read into the record.
One victim said Buono's actions turned him into a "self-doubting, shame machine at a time I should have been thriving," he said. "I have spent the majority of my life rewriting the connections in my brain so I don't have to listen to the constant litany of negative voices, but they still creep in from time to time. I blame him for that."
The victim cited studies that show victims of sexual abuse are more likely to have long-term health problems. He currently has Stage 4 prostate cancer that has spread to his bones.
"It's incurable," he said with a shaking voice. "If (Buono) had anything to do with my cancer, he stole my ability to watch my daughters become adults and to have their own families. He 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."
A second victim said Buono was the floor master in his dorm at Milton Academy, and in an "ideal position" to abuse him.
"At that age, I should have been taken care of, not taken advantage of," he said. "My life and my relationships have all been tinted by my rage of what Rey did all those years ago. ... It haunts me to this day."
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He said that after graduation he spiraled into drug and alcohol abuse, and ultimately ended up a heroin addict and homeless. He said Buono signed his Milton Academy yearbook, "The pleasure was all mine."
"I believe that be belongs in prison for the rest of his life," he said. "This plea is a gift. It does not compare to the extreme damage that he has caused."
A third victim submitted a written statement, read by Beatty.
"I know in my heart that by confessing to a subset of charges today, he is admitting to others," the victim said. "I hope it haunts him for the rest of his days."
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This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Ex-Milton Academy teacher Reynold Buono pleads guilty to child rape