Fairfield University, others liable for $60 million settlement ordered in Haiti orphanage abuse case – Hartford Courant

As many as 170 children abused by convicted pedophile Douglas Perlitz at a church-sponsored orphanage in Haiti would share a $60 million settlement to be paid by Fairfield University and associated organizations and individuals under an interim settlement approved by a federal judge in Hartford.
The abuse case against Perlitz is one of the most egregious ever and law enforcement officials used it to underscore U.S. efforts to track down and prosecute U.S. citizens who exploit children on foreign soil. Perlitz was founder and director of Project Pierre Toussaint in Haiti’s north coast city of Cap-Haitien and used the orphanage, closely associated with the Catholic Church and the university, to extort years of sexual favors from some of the poorest children in the hemisphere’s poorest country.
“We are grateful that this process is in its final stages and will provide closure for these brave young men,” said New York lawyer Paul J. Hanly Jr., co-lead counsel on the case with Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian. “The settlement will allow the survivors to move beyond these horrors, enable them to receive whatever counseling and aid they require, and move on with their lives, as best as they can.”
Under the settlement, the $60 million will be paid by Fairfield University; the Society of Jesus of New England; the Order of Malta, American Association, USA; Haiti Fund, Inc.; Father Paul E. Carrier, S.J.; and Hope E. Carter. Senior U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny tentatively approved the settlement in January and, this week, issued an order making it effective on Aug. 27 if there is no successful challenge.
Perlitz pleaded guilty to federal abuse charges in 2010 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
When he pleaded guilty to a single offense of sexually assaulting a child, Perlitz acknowledged traveling to Haiti repeatedly for sexual purposes between 2001 and 2008 and engaging in illicit sexual contact with eight boys.
The church-sponsored orphanage was financed by the Haiti Fund, Inc., a registered Connecticut charity closely associated with Fairfield University. The fund’s directors were appointed by Carrier, former director of campus ministry at the University and a frequent visitor to Perlitz and the Haitian orphanage.
Perlitz is a 1992 graduate of Fairfield University. A decade later, while operating the orphanage, he delivered the school’s commencement address and received an honorary degree. Students, faculty and alumni were major contributors to the Perlitz organization.
Donors contributed more than $2 million to the orphanage in the decade leading to Perlitz’s indictment in 2009. Officials in Haiti said that, when allegations of abuse at the orphanage surfaced in 2008, donations stopped, the orphanage closed and the orphans were once again homeless.
Perlitz, through the orphanage, offered boys as young as 6 years old homes, food, clothing, shoes, water to bathe in, sporting activities and basic education. Federal officials said that, in some cases, he bribed children with gifts and money and, in others, he threatened them if they refused his demands. The victims charged in a variety of lawsuits that the Haiti Fund and Fairfield University, operated by the New England Jesuit Order, failed to take precautions to prevent the abuse.
As part of the pending settlement, individual lawsuits were converted to a class-action, which allowed additional boys to file claims. So far, 150 claims have been approved and 20 more are pending. Five years ago, the same defendants paid $12 million to settle similar claims brought by 24 other victims.


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