MORRIS TOWNSHIP (NJ)
The Patch [Morristown NJ]
November 17, 2021
By Josh Bakan
Father Jude Salus is listed as an active monk for St. Mary’s Abbey, which runs the Delbarton School.
A lawsuit against the Delbarton School claims that a priest sexually abused a child in the 1990s. The complaint became the latest among several lawsuits filed against the school for alleged abuse.
Law firms Jeff Anderson & Associates and Gianforcaro Law have filed 32 lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse from Delbarton. But the lawsuit filed Wednesday appears to be the firms’ first in the wave that alleges sexual misconduct from an authority figure listed as an active monk on the website of St. Mary’s Abbey, which runs Delbarton.
The lawsuit alleges that Father Jude Salus sexually abused the plaintiff from 1993-94. The plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit anonymously, was a student and approximately 14 years old.
“I used to ask myself all the time, ‘why me?'” the plaintiff said in a news release from the aforementioned law firms. “I didn’t get it. I was the good kid — quiet, shy, obedient. It took me a long time to realize that that’s exactly ‘why me.’ Father Jude probably assumed that I would never come forward about what happened that day, and for nearly three decades, he was right.”
Salus became ordained in 1975 and began teaching religion at Delbarton and serving in local parishes on the weekends. He currently serves as chaplain at Newton Medical Center and to the Filippini Sisters at Villa Walsh in Morristown, according to St. Mary’s Abbey.
A spokesperson for St. Marey’s Abbey did not return comment to Patch in time for initial publication.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Morris County Superior Court, claims that “the culture of the Catholic Church … created pressure on (the) Plaintiff not to report the abuse.”
The complaint demands a jury trial. The plaintiff seeks several compensatory damages and further relief that the court deems equitable.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Victims’ Rights Bill into law May 2019, which opened a timeframe that removed the statute of limitations as a barrier for lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse. The bill gives the public until Nov. 30 to file such claims.
Since the state temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for such civil cases, several have sued Delbarton and alleged child sexual abuse. A St. Mary’s Abbey spokesperson told Patch the following in June:
“St. Mary’s Abbey has always cooperated with local law enforcement on any matter that has been brought to its attention. We encourage anyone who has been abused to come forward at this time and file your claim so that the process can begin.
Although New Jersey temporarily suspended the statute of limitations in 2019, Delbarton’s public troubles began years prior.
In 2012, Steve Badt became the sixth former student to join a civil lawsuit alleging sexual abuse from the school. Badt said the abuse took place at the hands of a monk from 1979-85.
The man alleged he was sexually abused by Timothy Brennan, who in 1987 was convicted of criminal sexual abuse of another Delbarton student.
But lawsuits escalated since 2019, when lawsuits accused 13 monks linked to the school of sexually assaulting 30 people from the 1960s to 1980s. Attorneys representing victims who say they were sexually abused filed six lawsuits in July against Delbarton School and St. Mary’s Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict of New Jersey, which runs the school.