NJ: School and monastery need to do more to face their abuse problems “directly and forthrightly”
For immediate release, July 26, 2018
Statement by Tim Lennon, Volunteer President of the Board of Directors of SNAP, the Survivors Network (415-312-5820, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org)
Abbot Richard Cronin, the head of St. Mary's Benedictine Abbey, and Father Michael Tidd, headmaster of Delbarton School in Morris Township, wrote to alumni and other members of the community on July 20th. The joint letter said that the two believed it was important to address “directly and forthrightly” the fact that thirteen monks who worked at the school have been accused of sexually abusing thirty children over the past three decades.
As survivors of clergy sexual abuse who belong to SNAP, the Survivors Network, we believe that the two institutions need to do more to achieve that goal.
The statement spends a lot of time explaining the new policies and procedures which have been implemented at the school. While we applaud all efforts to protect children and help survivors, we cannot help but feel that the primary purpose recounting this was to reassure and calm parents as media reports of apparently rampant sexual abuse of students continue to be published, and more victims continue to come forward.
Policies and procedures to deal with abuse are all well and good, but we believe the school and abbey should also have acknowledged their combined failure to protect the children under their care and explained why so much abuse occurred under their watch.
We wonder how so many students could have been sexually abused without complicity and silence on the part of the community? Did officials at St. Mary’s and Delbarton School, particularly those still in residence, have a role in allowing this to happen? Parents of current students should be asking themselves these questions and demanding answers.
Moreover, as survivors, it is very disturbing to us to learn that some abusers “were barred from unsupervised contact with minors and had their activities and movements regulated by Abbey officials.” That revelation seems incomplete to us without also informing the entire community who those monks are. Many victims suffer incredibly, believing that they are the only one hurt. Revealing the names of perpetrators not only protects the innocent, it also comforts the wounded.
Survivors of sexual abuse suffer lifelong harm and injury. If the abbey and school are truly sincere about wanting to be address the sexual abuse inflicted on students “directly and forthrightly,” we say they need to open their records, name names, and expose the predators in their midst, as well as those who may be in unsuspecting communities around the world.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 supporters. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org )