Delbarton monk facing sexual misconduct allegations leaves local abbey

(Star-Ledger) Rev. Luke Travers, the former headmaster of Delbarton School in Morris Township and target of a string of sexual misconduct allegations over the past year, has left St. Mary’s Abbey, which has severed official ties with him, according to a terse statement released today by Abbot Giles P. Hayes.

In a two-sentence statement, Hayes — who oversees the abbey and the all-boys private school — said Travers has “separated himself” from the abbey. Hayes directed any inquiries regarding Travers to his attorney.

Several messages left for the Morristown attorney, Gerard Hanlon, were not returned tonight.

After releasing the statement, Hayes refused to answer additional questions. Abbey spokesman Anthony Cicatiello said inquiries about Travers’ status as a monk “are personal and need to be answered by him.”

“He is no longer the responsibility of the abbey,” Cicatiello said.

Since the first accuser came forward more than a year ago, Travers, who served as Delbarton’s headmaster from 1999-2007, apparently has been restricted in his movements by the order. Hayes said Travers has been prohibited to travel without supervision and banned from having contact with anyone under 21 years of age.

Travers’ departure from the abbey and Cicatiello’s statement seem to indicate those rules no longer are being enforced. But this would not be the first time Travers has disregarded restrictions placed on him by the Benedictine order.

Travers apparently was under those same restrictions while working at an abbey in Virginia, but that abbey immediately cut ties to him in January and sent him back to Morris Township when church officials discovered Travers was ignoring the rules.

Since April 2011, four men have come forward, alleging Travers either hugged and kissed them or groped them inappropriately decades ago, when they were minors and Travers was a teacher at Delbarton or a visiting clergy at area churches. One accuser, Bernard Murphy, a 1989 graduate of Delbarton, said Travers proposed that they run away together.

No criminal charges have been filed against Travers.

Patrick Wall, a canon lawyer, victims advocate and a former monk, said this is probably Travers’ first step toward laity. The abbey and Delbarton likely welcome the move, he said, because “it limits their liability from this day forward.”

Wall said it is customary for abbey officials to help with a monk’s transition in cases like this — providing him severance of roughly $1,000 for every year served and a car. Abbey officials, with help from well-connected school alumni, also might help Travers find a job, Wall said.

According to the Paterson Diocese, Travers, a New York City native, was ordained in 1986 at St. Mary’s Abbey.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1979, a master’s degree in theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1984, and a master’s of education degree from Harvard University in 1999.

Along with teaching and serving as headmaster at Delbarton, he served as a visiting clergy at Notre Dame of Mount Carmel Church in Cedar Knolls and Corpus Christi Church in Chatham Township.

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Delbarton monk facing sexual misconduct allegations leaves local abbey
Kevin Manahan
April 20, 2012