Ex-student claims NJ private school monks abused him more than 150 times

New York Post/June 17, 2021

By Mark Lungariello

A former student at a posh New Jersey private school was raped, sodomized and sexually abused by three Catholic monks more than 150 times in the 1970s, a bombshell lawsuit claims.

Rodney Baron, a seventh grader at the time of the alleged abuse, said he was raped by an assistant headmaster at Delbarton School during an overnight retreat and frequently sexually assaulted in the men’s bathroom and in the headmaster of discipline’s office, according to the lawsuit filed in state Superior Court.

And Baron, seeking damages of more than $50 million, felt targeted because he and his brother were then the only two black students at the all-boys school in Morristown, the suit claims.

“As the only African American student in the school other than his brother, Rodney thought to himself: ‘Who is going to believe me?’’ said the lawsuit, filed May 12 by Baron’s attorney John Baldante.

Baron was 13 and 14 in 1977 and 1978, when he was allegedly abused on a weekly basis – often during school hours – at the school, run by the Catholic order of Benedictines, also known as “Black Monks.” The abuse was so frequent, the lawsuit alleges, that the days he wasn’t abused were “the exception, rather than the rule.”

The alleged abusers were former assistant headmaster and social studies teacher Fr. Manus Duffy, headmaster of discipline Fr. Bruno Ugliano and math teacher Br. Jonathan Michael Hunt. All three accused are now dead, the suit said.

The lawsuit outlines a sickening pattern of abuse that began with math teacher Hunt, who would allegedly follow Baron into the boys’ bathroom during class hours and fondle the boy and hold his penis “under the guise of helping Rodney go to the bathroom.”

The abuse escalated into Hunt forcing oral sex and masturbation on the boy, the suit claims. Duffy, who fashioned himself as a modern “cool” priest, also abused the boy in the bathroom and was known to fondle and massage Baron and other students in classroom settings, the suit alleges.

“Fr. Manus’ preoccupation of Rodney’s buttocks was exponentially greater than the frequency and manner with which he touched, massaged and/or fondled other white students,” the suit states.

“In part, Rodney accepted such behavior as normal and expected within the Delbarton culture,” the lawsuit goes on.

“On the other hand, Rodney wondered if the two clergy/teachers had conferred with and spoken to each other about Rodney and had colluded and aligned their behavior to sexually abuse Rodney utilizing the same playbook and mirroring the same routine.”

Duffy took “a perverse pleasure and pride” in catching Baron late for school to the point where the word “tardy” still triggers him to this day, the suit says. As he faced discipline, he was sent to the office of Ugliano, who also joined in on the abuse with forced masturbation and oral sex, the lawsuit states.

Duffy is accused of raping the boy twice during an overnight retreat on the New Jersey Shore, the lawsuit alleges.

The abuse led to emotional distress and affected Baron’s relationships, pushing him to “destructive and dysfunctional behaviors” such as substance abuse, the lawsuit said.

Delbarton, now a $40,900-a-year school whose famous graduates include “Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage, has been embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal, northjersey.com reported.

The school faces about 20 similar lawsuits to Baron’s, which after the state opened a two-year window to file child sex abuse cases on accusations where the statute of limitations had already passed, NJ.com reported. The school has acknowledged accusations have been made against 13 clergy and a civilian employee, according to NJ.com, which outlined Baron’s lawsuit in a report on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the school didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment from The Post.

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