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Advocate: Christie Must Act on Delbarton Scandal

Governor asked to appoint a special prosecutor to probe allegations of sexual misconduct by Delbarton's former headmaster

An activist who has publicized accusations of sexual misconduct at Delbarton School says he's called on Gov. Chris Christie for help addressing the allegations, but gotten no reply.

On Jan. 23, Patrick Marker wrote a notarized letter to Christie, himself a parent of Delbarton students, 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.”

It's been a month, and Marker said he's gotten no response. Calls to Christie's office this week by Patch went unanswered as well.

Marker, of Washington, DC, created and maintains UndertheGreenWave.com. On it, he discusses accusations of impropriety at Delbarton, including one that has resulted in an investigation of the school's former headmaster, the Rev. Luke Travers.

Details of those allegations came to light in January, though an investigation had already been going on for several months by then. A former student Marker has referred to as "Markus" (but also said that's not his real name) had written to St. Mary's Abbey in June. Markus alleged that in 1990, when Travers was a teacher at Delbarton, Travers offered the then-student alcohol, and kissed him on the neck and ears. Markus further alleged that after he graduated, when he returned to the school for a visit, Travers tried to convince him they should run away together.

The Abbey has said Travers has been placed under restrictions, and has told Patch that the Morris County Prosecutor's Office is conducting an investigation; the Abbey will conduct its own inquiry once that process it complete, a spokesman has said. The prosecutor's office has declined to discuss details of any investigation that it may be conducting.

In his letter to Christie, Marker said it's time for the governor to step in.

 “It is up to you and the parents of Delbarton students to demand leadership and accountability,” Marker wrote. “In the absence of leadership, you must demand change. There has been no leadership.”

Marker requested the governor take immediate action to: Ensure the safety of all members of the Delbarton community; hold perpetrators of misconduct accountable; hold any who covered up misconduct accountable; and allow vicitms to be heard on a respectful manner.

Marker also sent Christie a copy of his “Richmond letter,” in  which he described to Most Rev. Francis Xavier DiLorenzo of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, the history of the allegations against the Rev. Luke Travers, who served as Delbarton headmaster from 1999 to 2007.

Marker said at least five former Delbarton students have come forward to describe alleged impropriety by Travers. The most recent was a North Carolina resident who wrote that in 1997, when he was 16, he attended a retreat at Notre Dame of Mount Carmel Church in Cedar Knolls when during a confessional session Travers touched his knee and kissed his neck.

Travers was serving as the non-residential administrator of the Mary Mother of Church Abbey of Richmond, Va., when the first Delbarton allegations surfaced. Travers was removed from that position, which he had held since 2010.

Anthony Cicatiello, a spokesman for St. Mary’s Abbey, said recently Travers is under “most severe” restrictions at the Abbey. Travers is accompanied by another monk wherever  he goes, Cicatiello said.

Marker maintains misstatements and lack of action by the abbey’s leadership— especially the Rev. Giles P. Hayes, the Abbey's abbot—have hampered a true investigation.

"In a Jan. 13, 2012 email to alumni, Giles referred to Travers' misconduct as a ‘minor boundary allegation.’" Marker wrote to Christie. “Similar minimization occurred during an all-school assembly at Delbarton the same day.”

The statement Hayes sent to the Delbarton community also says that since 2002, St. Mary's has had an "internal processes to review allegations of sexual misconduct by priests and monks that are considered a national model, in part for the respect it gives to the rights and confidentiality of both victims and those accused."

“You wear many hats,” Marker wrote to Christie. “With each hat is a new set  of responsibilities. I am calling on you as a parent, husband, lawyer, and governor, to put an end to deceptive, destructive and disingenuous practices employed by

Mom in Morris Plains February 20, 2012 at 11:52 PM
If these allegations are true, then I pray the Abbey will cooperate with whatever the DA finds. But if the allegations prove unwarented, I hope Mr. Marker will be as vocal as he is now. In this country everyone is innocent until proven guilty. It is getting difficult in this day and age to comfort or console anyone. I am not saying this is what happened with Fr. Luke Travers or not, but it did with a friend of mine who is single and a teacher. A student came into her room crying that she thought she was pregnant. My friend patted her back and hugged her. Another student saw it and all sorts of false allegations were thrown at my friend about being gay, trying to molest a student. The student who was consoled didn't step forward because she didn't want her parents to know she had had sex. My point is there are always two sides to a story. Sexual Abuse of a child is a serious offense and dispicable when it occurs. WE should all be careful before we call anyone guilty, but we should always follow up on the stories told to us by our kids.
Randy D. February 23, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I agree, if what Fthr Luke did is true he should be prosecuted for sexual abuse and taking serious advantage of children. That said it is not that states place to get incvolved in this. It si a wast eof money and the Morris county should deal with it and will surely do a great job
Jon April 15, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Correct - this is an issue for the Judicial branch of the government to investigate. It is completely inappropriate to expect the Administrative branch (especially the Governor) to intervene. If someone feels they were wronged, then they should file a police report. Duh.

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