Sexual abuse lawsuit planned

(Star-Ledger) Two former Mendham residents are planning to file a lawsuit Tuesday in Morris County, alleging sexual abuse by two Delbarton School monks in the 1970s, when the men were adolescents, according to the complaint, obtained by The Star-Ledger.

The alleged victims, referred to in the Superior Court document only by their initials, will remain unnamed until a press conference at the Morris County courthouse at 10:30 Tuesday morning, said the men’s attorney, Gregory Gianforcaro of Phillipsburg.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the private all-boys school and St. Mary’s Abbey, which runs the school. Both are located in Morris Township.

The allegations, made against Rev. Justin Capato and Rev. Luke Travers, are the latest in a string of accusations that have rocked the elite school in the past three months.

According to the 35-page complaint, Capato and Travers, “while acting in their capacity” at Delbarton and St. Mary’s, “sexually assaulted” and “sexually abused” the two minors.

The complaint says the school and abbey “knew and/or reasonably should have known” Capato and Travers “posed an unreasonable risk of sexual abuse and harm to the plaintiffs.”

Gianforcaro said the two men, who are brothers, are now in their 40s and no longer living in New Jersey.

Four other men have come forward within the past year to allege sexual misconduct by Travers when they were teenagers in the 1980s and 1990s.

Abbey officials say the abbey’s review board is investigating those claims against Travers, who was headmaster at Delbarton from 1999 to 2007, and also taught at the school.

Abbey spokesman Anthony Cicatiello said today the review board’s investigation, in its ninth month, is ongoing.

When the first two allegations against Travers were made public in January, he was exiled from a Virginia abbey, where he had been working, and sent back to St. Mary’s.

Abbey officials say Travers remains under restrictions that limit his travel and any contact with the public, especially individuals under 21.

The allegations against Capato date back years. According to Patrick Marker, a victims advocate based in Washington, the father of the two men filing the lawsuit told abbey officials in 2004 of the alleged abuse Capato committed against one of his sons.

In 2010, the alleged victims detailed Capato’s alleged abuse in a letter to the abbey. Frustrated with the slow pace of the abbey’s investigation, the men decided to file a lawsuit, Marker said.

Capato, affiliated with Notre Dame of Mt. Carmel Church in Cedar Knolls, was listed on the March 18, 2012, church bulletin as the Parochial Vicar, with an extension and a Notre Dame email address. In a voicemail message, Capato says he “will be away from the parish for an extended period of time” and directs calls to the pastor, Rev. Jude Salus.

Calls to Salus were unreturned today.

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Sexual abuse lawsuit planned against 2 former Delbarton School monks, complaint says
Kevin Manahan
March 19, 2012