Three Survivors Filing Publicly, Three Anonymously, Under New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act
(Newark, NJ) – Today, on behalf of multiple courageous survivors, attorneys from Jeff Anderson & Associates and Gianforcaro Law filed six child sexual abuse complaints against the prestigious Delbarton School (Morristown, NJ) and the Order of Saint Benedict New Jersey (OSBNJ). The cases, brought under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act (part of the New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill), identify six child abusers formerly employed by the school, including Father Benedict “Michael” Worry who is believed to be residing on the Delbarton School/St. Mary’s Abbey premises currently.
“Prestige and secrecy can no longer obscure the peril hidden in the halls and history of Delbarton School,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “These brave survivors are pulling back the curtain to expose a real, immediate threat to children entrusted to the care of the school and the Order of St. Benedict.”
The six perpetrators identified in the claims include:
- Father Benedict “Michael” Worry, O.S.B. – accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1978 to 1979. He is believed to be currently residing on the Delbarton School/St. Mary’s Abbey premises; his current access to children is unknown.
- Father Timothy J. Brennan, O.S.B. – accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1982 to 1985; believed to be deceased.
- Father Donal Fox, O.S.B. – accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1983 to 1984; believed to be deceased.
- Father Justin J. Capato, O.S.B. – accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1984; his status in the order and his current whereabouts are unknown.
- Giacomo “Giac” Pagano – lay teacher accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1968 to 1969; his current whereabouts are unknown.
- Brother/Deacon Malachy “Robert” Flavin – accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1983 to 1984; believed to be alive, but has not been a member of OSBNJ community for decades.
“The Complaints filed today are a true testament to the incredible courage of these survivors, those survivors that came before them, and those that will come after them. The filing of these lawsuits allows the survivors to finally take back their power and control that they lost when they were abused,” said attorney Greg Gianforaco. “For decades, there has been a culture of pervasive, systemic sexual abuse of children within this institution. It’s time for these survivors to seek justice and hold Delbarton School, St. Mary’s Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict of New Jersey accountable.”
Three survivors—Joseph Discher, Robert Sylverstein and Michael O’Neill—are filing publicly, while the other three plaintiffs are maintaining their anonymity. Mr. Discher provided the following statement:
“When this happens to you, it destroys your ability trust in others and in yourself. It eats away at you even as you try to suppress the events. It does damage that is nearly unquantifiable. When a priest abuses a young, trusting boy, he takes something that you can never get back. This happened to me. It’s happened to other people I know. It’s happened to so many we don’t know. I didn’t want to come forward with my name and say ‘this happened to me,’ maybe out of fear or guilt, I don’t know, but silence is how they get away with it, silence lets them win. So I won’t hide in the shadow, in the silence. You can’t get past it that way. You can’t get better. For a long time, this has negatively impacted my life, far more than I ever realized. I know it is the same, or worse, for many others. I owe it to them to publicly stand up and say this happened, so they know I’m here, that they’re not alone, and that I will stand alongside them.”
In May of 2020 Delbarton School filed a motion to dismiss a sexual abuse survivor’s lawsuit filed under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act. Morris County Superior Court Judge Peter A. Bogaard wasted no time in issuing his ruling from the bench and denying the motion. Judge Bogaard rejected Delbarton’s argument that the Victims’ Rights Bill was unconstitutional and violated its right to due process.
“These complaints likely represent a small fraction of the abuse perpetrated at Delbarton by clerics and lay staff. We demand immediate action to protect the children currently entrusted to the care of the school – and accountability for the harm that school and Order officials allowed these survivors to suffer,” said Anderson. “It’s time for a reckoning.”
Plaintiffs Mr. Sylverstein and Mr. O’Neill are available for comment/interviews. Please contact Greg Gianforcaro with requests.