Catholic School Sued for Sexual Abuse of Haitian Children

Fairfield University
Fairfield University

A former pupil of a Catholic school for disadvantaged youth in Cap-Haitien, Haiti has joined 22 other former students in filing a lawsuit against a Jesuit priest now living in Massachusetts, and others, alleging the defendants did nothing to prevent the school’s former director from sexually abusing them over a 10-year period.

In a civil complaint filed this week in federal court in Connecticut, a Haitian national, now in his early 20s, says the Reverend Paul E. Carrier; Fairfield University in Connecticut, and other defendants, are liable for the abuse he suffered from Douglas Perlitz, 42, former director of Project Pierre Toussaint in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

The Haitian man’s complaint claims that Carrier, a former Fairfield chaplain; the university, and other defendants, ¬established the school, provided its funding, and ignored signs of Perlitz’s actions.

A lawyer for the university, ¬Stanley A. Twardy Jr., said Fairfield expects to be cleared.

“We feel that this complaint, like the others, should be and will be dismissed by the court,” he said. “It fails as a matter of law to state a claim against the university and further contains factual inaccuracies.” He added that those inaccuracies include the contention that Perlitz worked for the university.

Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer for the alleged victim and the other Haitian men who have filed lawsuits, said that the abuse occurred ¬between 1998 and 2008 when the alleged victims were between the ages of 9 and 21.

Reverend Carrier could not be reached for comment, but last week his lawyers asked a federal judge in Boston to compel Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to turn over records of statements made by Perlitz’s victims and other students and staff at the school, among other items. ICE had been involved in the criminal investigation into Perlitz.

Perlitz admitted in 2010 in federal court in Connecticut to abusing eight Project Pierre Toussaint students and is currently serving a near 20-year prison sentence.

According to the complaint filed this week, Carrier, who also served as a director of a non-profit organization affiliated with Project Pierre Toussaint, saw underage students in Perlitz’s bedroom in Haiti, saw Perlitz show at least one student a pornographic video, and was present at least once when Perlitz arranged a meeting with a boy.

Carrier stopped meeting with a school administrator who confronted Perlitz and also obstructed efforts to investigate him, according to the complaint.

The alleged victim was repeatedly assaulted by Perlitz from 2004 to 2007, beginning when he was 14, according to his lawsuit.

Twardy, the lawyer representing the university, said Carrier served as a university chaplain for 18 years until April 2006 at the direction of the Society of Jesus of New England.

A spokesperson for the society, which is another named ¬defendant in the lawsuits, stated that the Haitian school “was not a mission of the Society of Jesus of New England, and the society believes it has not been properly named as a defendant in these cases. We continue to pray for all persons impacted by these tragic circumstances.”

Perlitz, a Fairfield alumnus, delivered the university’s commencement address in 2002 and urged graduates to “remember to offer all you are — your whole heart, mind, and soul — to those you meet on your way, especially those who have no way,” according to an article published in a university magazine.