Delbarton monk accused of sexual abuse

(The Star-Ledger) The latest in a string of accusations of sexual abuse at the Delbarton School involve a monk, the Rev. Benedict Worry, who has been serving as the pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Linden and the chaplain for the Linden Police Department.

At a press conference on the Morris County courthouse lawn Tuesday, two miles from the private school, Delbarton alumnus Steve Badt and an unnamed former student joined two other alleged abuse victims in a civil lawsuit originally filed in March against the school and St. Mary’s Abbey, which runs the school.

The unnamed accuser, listed as “John Doe” on the amended Superior Court complaint, didn’t attend the press conference. His attorney Greg Gianforcaro read a one-page statement.

Gianforcaro said his client — in his 40’s and living out of state — was abused by Worry as a student in the mid-1980s, and he alleges high-ranking monks, including Abbot Giles Hayes, who presides over the school, knew about it.

“Many monks at the abbey,” including top administrators, past and present, “were aware of Benedict’s misconduct with me and other young men,” the accuser’s statement said. “They must all be held accountable.”

The amended complaint, filed in Superior Court, said Worry “sexually assaulted, sexually abused and/or had sexual contact” with the unnamed accuser “on numerous occasions.”

In one instance, when he was 16, the accuser said he awoke after a night of heavy drinking with the monk to find Worry fondling him, Gianforcaro said.

Many years later, as an adult, the unnamed accuser, said he awoke to find Worry performing oral sex on him, and immediately cut ties to the monk, Gianforcaro added.

Anthony Cicatiello, a spokesman for St. Mary’s Abbey, said Worry is at the abbey and “has been under strict supervision since January, in response to a complaint alleging misconduct with an individual in the 1990s.”

That individual “is not my client,” Gianforcaro said.

While saying Worry was unavailable for comment, Cicatiello added: “Father Benedict has no contact with minors. He has a dedicated supervisor at the Abbey and his supervision is subject to regular review.”

On Monday, Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark, said Worry was on “administrative leave” from St. Elizabeth, citing health problems.

“Unfortunately, it’s not surprising there’s another accuser,” Gianforcaro said. “This is absolutely consistent with what my clients have been saying from the start — that there is a serious issue regarding the predatory culture at St. Mary’s Abbey and Delbarton.”

Gianforcaro said the unnamed accuser provided an additional 10-page statement, detailing events and names of monks who, according to the accuser, are guilty of sexual misconduct, plying underaged students with alcohol and/or a coverup of the drinking and sexual abuse.

In the statement, parts of which were reviewed by The Star-Ledger, the accuser describes a playbook of “befriend, intoxicate, abuse, treat and repeat” among monks at Delbarton School, where vulnerable teenage boys were called “cuties” and puppies” by monks.

Gianforcaro said the accuser’s statement would be given to abbey officials.

Badt, a 1985 graduate, alleged he was abused four times by Rev. Timothy Brennan, an English teacher, during Badt’s six years at the school. Each time, Badt said, Brennan masturbated while fondling Badt.

In 1987, Brennan pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct with another teen student and was sent to a Missouri facility for sexual offenders. Twenty-five years later, he remains in the Benedictine order, under supervision and secluded from the public, Cicatiello said.

Since allegations of sexual misconduct were lodged in January against former Delbarton headmaster Luke Travers by an alumnus, other men have stepped forward to make accusations against Travers, Rev. Justin Capato, Brennan and Worry.

Four of the accusers — Tom and Bill Crane Jr., Badt and the unnamed accuser — have joined to sue the school and abbey. All are represented by Gianforcaro.

The four men said they want change in the leadership at Delbarton and the abbey, which, Bill Crane Jr. said, has conspired to create an atmosphere of “secrecy, conspiracy and intimidating victims.”

Cicatiello said abuse allegations revealed through the media “limit the ability to investigate thoroughly or respond fairly,” but Gianforcaro said he hopes Delbarton victims keep stepping forward.

“If I have to come back to amend this complaint 100 times, I will,” he said.

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Delbarton monk accused of sexual abuse in newest allegations
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Kevin Manahan
The Star-Ledger