N.J. man sues Delbarton School alleging monks sexually abused him repeatedly in the 1970s

nj.com [New Jersey]

June 16, 2021

By Anthony G. Attrino

A former star athlete and football player at Delbarton School in Morris County has filed a lawsuit against the order that runs the private Catholic institution, claiming three monks sexually abused him as a teenager in the 1970s – the latest in a series of similar lawsuits filed against the school.

Rodney Baron, now 57, claims in the lawsuit he was abused in the late 1970s when he was 13 or 14 years old. Baron states in the suit that he and his brother were the only Black students at Delbarton and were instructed to be “exceptionally obedient” because of their race.

The lawsuit alleges Baron was abused by two Benedictine priests and one brother at the school. One of the three was an assistant headmaster who also taught social studies, one was a headmaster of discipline and one was a math teacher. NJ Advance Media does not typically name alleged victims of sexual assault, but his name is included in this story with his approval.

The suit, filed last month, names the estates of the now-deceased priests, along with the Order of St. Benedict of New Jersey, which runs the Delbarton School.

The abuse occurred more than 150 times in the 1977-1978 school year in bathroom stalls, a school office, a classroom and on a retreat to the Jersey Shore, according to the complaint, filed in Superior Court of Morris County. The abuse led to depression, shame and anger issues for Baron, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit identifies the monks as three men who have since died — the Rev. Manus Duffy, Brother Jonathan Michael Hunt and the Rev. Bruno Ugliano. Of the three, Ugliano is the only one previously named in a sexual abuse complaint.

A media contact for the school did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Baron’s lawsuit is the latest against the order, which now faces at least 20 similar claims.

All but one of the suits was filed after Dec. 1, 2019, when the state extended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits and allowed a two-year window for those who were previously barred from filing suits by time limits.

In 2018, school officials publicly acknowledged in a letter to the community that 30 individuals had alleged abuse by 13 past or current clergy at the school, and one retired lay faculty member, over the course of three decades.

Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription.

Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com.