A retired drama teacher accused of sexually assaulting boys in Massachusetts and New York was allowed to teach in a program for senior citizens that’s affiliated with the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn campus.


Reynold “Rey” Buono, shown in a 2018 court appearance in Massachusetts, was a volunteer with the University of Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn senior college. Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger via Associated Press

USM staff and faculty members are subject to criminal background checks, but the checks are not required for senior college volunteers like 75-year-old Reynold “Rey” Buono, who’s free on bail while awaiting trial in Massachusetts, according to the University of Maine System.

The senior college’s board severed connections with him immediately upon learning of the charges, said Lucy Bisson, the board’s chair.

Massachusetts attorney Eric MacLeish, who represents several of Buono’s alleged victims, blamed institutional oversight for the lack of a background check, or at least a simple Google search, being conducted.

“I find it hard to believe that they don’t have some sort of screening. I find that really, really hard to understand,” said MacLeish, who described Buono as “one of the worst, hard-core pedophiles that I’ve come across.”

A year ago, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reinstated charges against Buono, who’s accused of raping a Milton Academy student in the 1980s. Also, a former student who sued an elite private school in New York City names Buono as an abuser. That lawsuit was settled last month, said Gil Santamarina, lawyer for the plaintiff. The settlement was confidential.


Kevin J. Reddington, an attorney based in Brockton, Massachusetts, represents Buono. Reddington said in a phone interview Wednesday evening that his client does not want to be interviewed about his legal circumstances.

“He just wants to be left alone,” Reddington said.

Buono’s next court appearance will be in Dedham Superior Court next week – Reddington was uncertain about the exact date – and it will be conducted via Zoom, Reddington said. He called it a routine hearing.

Reddington said his client is struggling to come to grips with the fact that the charges, which concern incidents that allegedly occurred three decades ago, have been reinstated.

“He is basically a very decent guy, who feels like he is being hounded,” Reddington said.

Buono’s move to Maine was approved by officials in Massachusetts, and he remains free on $50,000 bail with conditions preventing unsupervised contact with anyone under 18, said David Traub, spokesperson for the Norfolk district attorney. Traub said the maximum penalty would be life in prison.


Buono was a volunteer drama instructor at the USM Lewiston-Auburn campus’ senior college, which is associated with USM and featured on the USM website. The program offers non-credit classes for residents 50 and older in a variety of subjects, Hartill said.

“Mr. Buono is not and has never been employed by the University of Maine System or the University of Southern Maine,” USM spokesman Dan Hartill said Wednesday.

“The volunteer instructors who teach Senior College courses are not employees of the University of Maine System or USM,” the university said in a statement. USM provides volunteers with office and instructional space at the Lewiston-Auburn campus.

Before being removed from the senior college, Buono was teaching courses including “Hamlet: Deep Dive” that examined one act of the play each week, and “Juliet: An Actor Prepares.” Another course, which was to start on Feb. 22, was called “Hurray for Hollywood Screwball Comedies.” He also had classes that were scheduled to begin in April.

Buono is described as having retired to Maine after teaching theater and film in Southeast Asia, and having expertise in Shakespeare, Greek theater and cinema, according to the course catalog on USM’s website.

Milton Academy said in February 2017 that independent investigators had determined Buono molested at least a dozen male students. He headed the school’s theater program for more than a decade.


Buono was returned to the United States from Thailand in 2017 after a district attorney and Milton police investigated allegations by the former student at Milton Academy in the early 1980s.

A judge threw out all charges against him in 2019, but the Massachusetts 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, MacLeish said.

Educators use their status to perpetuate abuse, he said, so it was disturbing to see Buono volunteering with a program associated with USM.

Bisson emphasized that the senior college is a volunteer organization.

“We at Lewiston-Auburn Senior College always try to make the best decisions regarding our senior students and we will continue to try to make the best decisions in the future,” she said.

Press Herald Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

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