Delbarton Monk Accused of Sex Abuse Allegations Passes 2 Lie Detector Tests, Lawyer Says
By Kevin Manahan
April 24, 2012
|Rev. Luke Travers, pictured in this file photo from 1999, passed a lie detector test ordered by St. Mary's Abbey in January, then passed another one in March, his attorney told The Star-Ledger.|
MORRIS TOWNSHIP The attorney for the Rev. Luke Travers, the former Delbarton School headmaster facing allegations of sexual misconduct, said today that Travers has taken and passed two polygraph exams regarding the accusations.
Gerard Hanlon, a criminal attorney in Morristown, said Travers passed a lie detector test ordered by St. Mary's Abbey in January, then passed another, set up by Hanlon, in March.
"Luke was so adamant about what he hadn't done, so I set up the second one with an expert who has worked with me and (is) someone I trust," Hanlon said. "It's the first time I've talked about this, but maybe it's timely."
Abbey spokesman Anthony Cicatiello said the abbey "will not comment any further on matters related to Father Luke.
Four men have come forward within the past year to allege Travers while he was a teacher at Delbarton or working as a visting priest at area churches hugged and kissed them inappropriately or groped them. Two of the accusers, Tom Crane and his brother, Bill Crane Jr., have filed a civil lawsuit against Delbarton and St. Mary's abbey.
Polygraphs are inadmissible in court, but Hanlon said the reported results underscore Travers' contention that "he's innocent of all of the allegations."
Hanlon wouldn't identify the polygraph experts employed by him or the abbey. He wasn't sure how many of the four accusers had come forward by the time of the second polygraph.
The accusations revolve around incidents that allegedly happened decades ago, outside the statute of limitations. No criminal charges have been filed, but canon law experts say Travers still could face Bendictine discipline if the allegations are deemed credible, because he would have violated his vows.
At the order of the abbey, Travers was sent to a Pennsylvania facility for evaluation as a sexual offender, Hanlon said. Hanlon would not identify the facility nor comment on the results of that examination.
Cicatiello also would not comment.
"Whatever evaluations were done, if any, are personnel matters and they are private and confidential," he said.
On Friday, St. Mary's Abbot Giles Hayes who oversees the abbey and the private all-boys school in Morris Township said Travers had "separated" himself from the abbey as of April 16. Hayes referred all inquiries about Travers to Hanlon.
Hanlon said there were "many reasons" why Travers left the abbey, but he would not elaborate. He directed questions about Travers' future as a clergyman to Travers' canon lawyer, J. Michael Ritty of Feura Bush, N.Y.
Ritty, in an email, said he was "unable to provide any information on the canonical aspects of an active case."
While Travers reportedly was living at St. Mary's Abbey from January to April, he was under restrictions, according to Hayes, who said Travers was not allowed to leave the grounds without a chaperone and was prohibited from contact with anyone under 21.
Those restrictions would remain in place, Hayes said, while the abbey review board investigated the allegations. That yearlong investigation is ongoing, although Hanlon said Travers has not been called to appear before the board.
The revelation that Travers has yet to speak to the board raises questions about the depth and timeliness of the probe.
But a spokesman for the review board said there are many reasons why a particular person might not have appeared before the board including scheduling and travel problems, pending investigations by other entities, advice of counsel and the need for the board to obtain documents, among others. Appearance before the board is voluntary.
Brian Kvederas, one of Travers' accusers, said he hasn't been contacted by the review board in the four months since he made his allegations in The Star-Ledger.
Although Travers has left the abbey, Hanlon said the monk has agreed not to have contact with minors, but Hanlon said Travers is not being chaperoned.
"He is in constant contact with me. He sees me. He calls me. I know his whereabouts," Hanlon said.
Asked how he could be sure Travers will abide by the restriction that he not have contact with minors, Hanlon said, "because he's my client and if he says he will, I believe him."
Travers, however, was caught ignoring the restrictions in January when he was working at a Virginia abbey. When the violations were discovered, abbey and church officials there cut ties to him and sent him back to New Jersey.
Travers was first placed under restrictions when his initial accuser 1989 Delbarton graduate Bernard Murphy sent a letter to the abbey in April 2011. In the letter, Murphy said Travers hugged and kissed him, professed his love and wanted to run away with him.