Two Alleging Sexual Abuse at Delbarton to File Suit

( The attorney for several men alleging sexual abuse by former Delbarton School headmaster Luke Travers, and another St. Mary’s Abbey monk, is scheduled to hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday in front of the Morris County Courthouse, where he will formally announce that his clients have filed a lawsuit against Delbarton and St. Mary’s Abbey, which runs the Morris Township-based Catholic school.

According to a press release issued by Phillipsburg attorney Gregory Gianforcaro on Monday, the suit refers to “abuse by Rev. Luke Travers, OSB, former headmaster at Delbarton School and Rev. Justin Capato, OSB, current parochial vicar at Notre Dame of Mount Carmel Parish,” in Cedar Knolls.

The press release notes that “at least three sexual abuse victims from St. Mary’s Abbey/Delbarton School” were planning on attending the press conference. Also scheduled to be in attendance are a former Benedictine monk, the president of New Jersey-based Road to Recovery sexual abuse victim support program, and Patrick Marker, creator of the website, which has publicized the alleged abuse and subsequent cover up at Delbarton School.

“Since the early 1970s, over the past decade and as recently as January of 2012, Delbarton School and St. Mary’s Abbey … have been wracked with allegations of sexual misconduct,” the press release reads. “In the new complaint, Rev. Luke Travers and Rev. Justin Capato are accused of sexually abusing two minors.”

According to an article posted Monday by the Daily Record, both minors at the time the alleged abuse occurred are now in their 40s, and are expected to attend the press conference.

The lawsuit to be filed by Gianforcaro claims, according to the press release, that the leadership at Delbarton School and St. Mary’s Abbey should have known of widespread abuse by Rev. Travers, Rev. Capato and other monastic personnel on campus.

“The abbey refuses to disclose its culture of secrecy, the whereabouts of Rev. Travers and Rev. Capato or comment on the results of recent investigations conducted by the abbey’s secret review board–a tool of intimidation empanelled by the abbey,” the press release states. It goes on to note that Gov. Chris Christie–who has a son that attends Delbarton–has refused to comment.

Patch first reported in January that Travers was being investigated for what Delbarton School called a “minor boundary violation with an adult,” in a letter to its community.

But Marker, who is based in Washington state, says Travers, who was Delbarton’s headmaster from 1999 through 2007, violated sacred trusts in coming on to a student and trying to get the student to run away with him.

“Although the matter has been reported in the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, the conduct is not criminal and no criminal charges were issued,” the Rev. Giles P. Hayes of St. Mary’s Abbey said in the letter.

On Jan. 23, Marker wrote a notarized letter to Christie, requesting the governor take action regarding Delbarton and its sponsor, St. Mary’s Abbey. He said the governor should appoint a special prosecutor to “conduct interviews and review abbey personnel files, Abbey Review Board notes, and Delbarton School files for any indication of conspiracy, deception, corruption and intimidation.”

In February, Marker said at least five people were accusing Travers of making sexual advances toward them. One of them, a former Morris County resident who now lives in North Carolina, indicated in a notarized statement released by Marker, that Rev. Luke Travers “kissed my neck and then put his cheek on my cheek” during an intimate confessional session.

“Only recently have I begun to understand the effect that Father Luke’s actions had in my life. I do not wish similar pain or confusion on any person,” the alleged victim says in the letter.

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Two Alleging Sexual Abuse at Delbarton to File Suit
March 19, 2012
John Dunphy