Monk Removed As Goochland Abbey's Administrator

By Kristen Green
Richmond Times-Dispatch
January 12, 2012

The Rev. Luke Travers formerly was headmaster at Delbarton School in Morristown, N.J.

The Catholic monk in charge of the Mary Mother of the Church Abbey in Goochland County, which owns and operates Benedictine College Preparatory school, has been removed from the position pending the outcome of an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct.

The Rev. Luke Travers, a former headmaster of the elite Delbarton School in New Jersey, was removed from his role as the Virginia abbey's canonical administrator Wednesday pending the outcome of the inquiry, said Hugh Anderson, president of the American Cassinese Congregation. Travers is also prohibited from having contact with juveniles or young adults.

The decision to remove Travers came after a letter was sent this week to Anderson and the Most Rev. Francis Xavier DiLorenzo, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, asking them to re-evaluate Travers' role. The letter from Patrick J. Marker, a resident of Washington who advocates for victims of monk misconduct, outlined allegations of misconduct by Travers against two unidentified male victims. Marker said the misconduct was sexual in nature, included the kissing of one victim's neck and ears and the touching of another victim's crotch, and happened in New Jersey.

The Rev. Giles P. Hayes, abbot of St. Mary's Abbey in Morristown, N.J., which runs Delbarton School, confirmed that his abbey's review board hired an independent investigator to look into a single complaint against Travers of sexual misconduct with someone 18 or older. The investigation, which began during the summer, is ongoing, Hayes said.

Travers did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Hayes said the complaint had been turned over to the local prosecutor's office, which declined to press charges against Travers. "He has not committed a crime," Hayes said. Hayes said that in addition to be prohibited from contact with juveniles or young adults during the investigation, Travers is not allowed to perform public ministry, which means he is permitted to say Mass for fellow monks but not for parishioners.

Hayes said the Virginia abbey had been informed of the restrictions on Travers. However, Steve Neill, a spokesman for the Richmond diocese, said DiLorenzo "knew nothing about it." Anderson, who lives in Illinois, met with DiLorenzo on Wednesday at the abbey, where Travers had been staying, Neill said.

Anderson, who appointed Travers in 2010 to help turn around the abbey's desperate financial situation, said Wednesday that he had appointed the Rev. Adrian Harmening, a chaplain at Benedictine and former principal, to fill the administrative role as the investigation of Travers' conduct continues.

Jesse Grapes, headmaster of the Richmond military school formerly known as Benedictine High School, said Travers delivered an address to Benedictine students in December after the Goochland Board of Supervisors gave the abbey the approval it needs to move the 100-year-old school to its property on the banks of the James River. He also presided over a monk's funeral in December.

Grapes said Travers was not directly involved in the all-male school and had limited, if any, interaction with students during his tenure. He said he had not received any complaints about Travers.

Grapes said he planned to meet with faculty and students today to discuss Travers' removal. (804) 649-6839








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