Elite NYC school Saint David’s hushed up sexual abuse by staff, alumni lawsuit alleges
A former student at an elite Manhattan private school claims in a shocking $20 million lawsuit that he was molested by three staffers, including one who allegedly kept a horrific trophy — jeans with locks of victims’ hair sewn into them.
Anthony Filiberti is the second alum to sue the $50,000-a-year Saint David’s School over past childhood sex abuse.
“Initially, it was incredibly pleasant. You ran around this donated mansion,” said Filiberti, who attended the all-boys elementary housed in three historic townhomes next to the Guggenheim on East 89th Street, from 1965 to 1973.
The K-8 academy, which counts Tom Brady’s son as a student and the late John F. Kennedy Jr. as a grad, catered to the well-to-do. Filiberti’s dad was well-known concert promoter Raymond Filiberti, whose clients included Judy Garland.
Then life “went sideways,” said Filiberti, now 60.
His homeroom teacher, Rey Buono, was the first to abuse him, Filiberti claims in a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed against the school under New York’s Child Victims Act, which opened a legal window to adjudicate old sex-abuse claims.
Buono, 74, who is facing child sex abuse charges in Massachusetts, is free on $50,000 bail. A lawyer for Buono did not respond to questions from The Post.
Then Filiberti met guitar teacher Chuck Jones — who allegedly introduced the boy to drugs, repeatedly sexually abused him while he was too high to move and eventually had him peddling pot, hash and other drugs on his behalf, according to court papers.
Jones’ prized possession: a pair of jeans with the hair of kids he was abusing woven into them, according to legal papers.
“He was proud of it. He called it, ‘All the young dudes.’ He got so many of them he turned it into a braid,” said Filiberti.
Jones would kiss him while blowing marijuana smoke into his mouth, and allegedly had sex with Saint David’s French teacher Charlie Rich in front of him, said Filiberti, who claims Rich also abused him. Neither Jones nor Rich could be reached for comment.
“They would do what they would do, to sort of gauge reaction, groom, test, push boundaries,” he said.
The alleged abuse took place in Jones’ East 75th Street apartment, where he gave guitar lessons to kids — and even allegedly slept with Filiberti’s 14-year-old ex-girlfriend, prompting complaints from her school to Saint David’s, according to the lawsuit.
“I saw so many kids from Saint David’s come and go there, I thought nothing of it,” Filiberti said of his visits to Jones’ home.
Life at home also turned sour, when his father was criminally charged in the unsuccessful launch of a Woodstock-like music festival with Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, James Taylor and others in Powder Ridge, Conn., selling 20,000 $20 tickets.
The turmoil left Anthony on his own, with no one to notice his drug use and long absences from home, he said. By the time he was 13, Filiberti was pocketing $25 per pound of weed he sold, he said. Eventually, his family noticed the stacks of cash and alerted Saint David’s, Filiberti said.
But headmaster David Hume allegedly swept the incidents under the rug, referring to the abuse as “socializing,” according to court papers.
“I know all about Chuck Jones,” Hume allegedly told Filiberti. “You’re not to speak about this.”
Hume, who died in 2015, arranged a scholarship for Filiberti at famed Choate Rosemary Hall, the alma mater of JFK. It was a “bribe,” Filiberti charges in the lawsuit, which accuses Saint David’s of negligence.
Filiberti was later expelled from Choate for drug possession. Anxiety, depression and anger issues stemming from the abuse sent him into “a 20-year spiral of trying to push down and live with something that I couldn’t talk to anybody about, that haunted me.”
“The Saint David’s experienced by our client and his classmates was a cesspool from which few emerged unscathed,” lawyer Gil Santamarina said. “It must be held accountable.”
Filiberti, a married father of two who works in mortgage banking, didn’t reveal the alleged abuse to anyone until seeing a New York Post story in May about other accusations at Saint David’s.
Filiberti wept as he urged other victims to speak up.
“At the end of the day, although difficult and painful, you’re going to feel a lot better after you do speak up. And I never thought that was a possibility,” he said.
When asked about the new allegations, the school said it had asked its community to come forward with reports of abuse.
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