|Delbarton Alumnus Hasn't Felt Welcome since Abuse Claims
By Abbott Koloff
Daily Record [New Jersey]
April 28, 2007
Bob Sheridan used to be known as Mr. Green Wave, a member of the Delbarton School Hall of Honor, a former lacrosse star who gave back to his alma mater, the school he loved.
He planned class reunions, organized fundraisers, volunteered as an assistant lacrosse coach and gave up his Saturday nights a few months a year to coach indoor winter lacrosse. He felt so close to the Rev. Luke Travers, the headmaster, that he invited him to be his guest in 2001 when he was inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Foundation Hall of Fame.
Delbarton was in some ways Bob Sheridan's life — until he publicly disclosed allegations five years ago that a former teacher who had been a monk and a deacon once tried to molest him. Since then, he has said over the years, he has not exactly felt welcome on campus.
This week, Delbarton officials held a ceremony to honor another former lacrosse player, Reade Seligmann, for the way he handled false rape charges brought against him last year when he attended Duke University. They gave him the Delbarton Medal, the same award given to visiting Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
Here's what Seligmann said during the ceremony, according to the school's Web site:
"Delbarton always has your back."
It's nice Delbarton had his back, supporting him through a difficult time after he and two others were falsely accused of rape by a stripper hired to perform at a party for Duke lacrosse players.
Too bad Bob Sheridan can't say the same thing about Delbarton and the Benedictine monks of St. Mary's Abbey.
He used to go back to Delbarton every year to hand out an award named after his brother, Michael, but has said he stopped going in 2003. He has said he's been told by other alumni that he's not welcome at Delbarton. He has said he "thinks very highly" of Travers, the headmaster, but no longer hears from the man he once considered a friend.
Travers did not respond to questions left on his answering machine this past week: Would he consider welcoming Sheridan back to the school? Would the school consider an apology? A spokeswoman responded, saying Sheridan's case was handled by the Abbey, and not the school. Abbey officials did not respond to an interview request.
Sheridan, 43, who grew up in Chatham, did not want to say much about his situation this week. He did say he still loves Delbarton, that he has moved past anger, and those who know him say he's in a better place in his life. He is working as a sales consultant for a printing company and living in Monmouth County.
"I believe in the overwhelming goodness of the Delbarton School," he said in an e-mail, adding that he believes his recommendations to an Abbey review board that heard his case five years ago will help prevent "similar acts ... from ever happening again on the school grounds that I love to this day."
Sheridan first went to Abbey officials in 1992 with allegations that a teacher named Robert Flavin exposed himself in 1981 when Sheridan, then 18, was home from college and visiting the Abbey. The deacon went to his room to get a book and came back with his pants around his ankles, according to Sheridan. Sheridan didn't tell officials at the time that Flavin also allegedly tried to molest him, groping him as Sheridan ran out of the Abbey.
He figured he had said enough to get what he wanted, to have Flavin banned from the campus.
Flavin, Abbey officials have said, already had been told not to come back because of an alleged drinking incident. Sheridan was promised Flavin wouldn't be allowed back on campus.
Almost a decade later, Sheridan heard Flavin was working as a deacon at Resurrection parish in Randolph. No one bothered to tell Paterson Roman Catholic Diocese officials about the allegations against Flavin, Abbey officials have acknowledged. Diocese officials have said they would not have allowed Flavin to work in one of their churches had they known.
Sheridan went public with his allegations in 2002 after going to the Abbey, where he said he was told to get a lawyer. He said an Abbey attorney called him a liar. His case later was heard by an Abbey Review board that found his allegations credible, recommending Flavin be reduced to the lay state. Paterson Diocese officials sent the paperwork to Rome.
Diocese officials say a technicality kept Flavin from being laicized but add that he won't ever be allowed to work as a deacon, which is what Sheridan said he wanted when he went to the Abbey in 2002. Sheridan got the news in a letter two years ago.
"It's important to note that the goal has been met," Paterson Diocese spokeswoman Marianna Thompson said this week.
Sheridan played a big part in getting that goal met by going public with his allegations. Some Delbarton alumni, he has said, responded by cursing at him and telling him he damaged the school. His name suddenly was removed from a top 10 scoring list in a Delbarton lacrosse yearbook, he has said, and then reinstated after Travers interceded on his behalf.
Sheridan has said some people who were angry at first have since apologized. Others apparently continue to hold a grudge. Some priests who were once his friends haven't exactly reached out to him.
They handed out an award this week to a young man who had been wronged, falsely accused and charged with a crime he did not commit.
Maybe they should do something like that for the man who used to be known as Mr. Green Wave and who still loves a school that has not exactly loved him back. Maybe school officials might want to reach out to Sheridan, invite him back to campus and give him a medal for what he has been through over the past five years.
First, they might want to apologize.
Abbott Koloff can be reached at (973) 989-0652 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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