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Haitians Allege Abuse at Catholic School in New U.S. Lawsuit

Jul 23, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

A former student at a Haitian Catholic school says he is among nearly two dozen others who were sexually abused by the school’s director over a decade.

According to a Boston Globe report, the student of Project Pierre Toussaint in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, is joining a federal lawsuit against Rev. Paul E. Carrier and others at that facility which was opened to care for disadvantaged Haitian children are responsible for allowing Douglas Perlitz, the former director there, to sexually abuse them for a period of at least a decade. The lawsuit is filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut.

Project Pierre Toussaint was created by Fairfield University and Rev. Carrier, who along with others at the university, provided the funding to create it. They appointed Perlitz as its director but the lawsuit claims they ignored obvious signs that the man was a threat to the safety of the children who attended the school. And in the face of allegations, they did nothing to remove him from his position at the school or the school altogether.

The lawsuit states that the 23 former students were subjected to Perlitz’ abuse from a period between 1998 and 2008. The victims at the time were between the ages of 9 and 21, according to the Globe report.

And while those officials at Fairfield University deny the accusations made against them, including the fact that Perlitz was under its employ, but they can not deny that Perlitz is a convicted sex offender. He is currently serving more than 19 years in a prison after admitting in 2010 to sexually abusing eight students at the school.

Carrier says he was unaware of Perlitz’ actions but some of the former students coming forward with these allegations place him at the immediate scenes of crimes and he as a witness to the guilty making arrangements to meet students at night. The report details the allegations: “Carrier, who also served as a director of a non-profit 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 for later in the evening.”

The Reverend also impeded an investigation into Perlitz’ abuse at least once during this 10-year period. He allegedly stopped meeting a school administrator in Haiti who had previously confronted the guilty director Perlitz. Carrier even allowed Perlitz to deliver Fairfield University’s commencement address in 2003.

One of the Defendants named in the lawsuit, the Society of Jesus of New England, denies any ties to the Haitian school. Carrier was named University chaplain by the Society but said it had nothing to do with Project Pierre Toussaint.

The alleged victims of the sexual abuse at the Haitian school are seeking $20 million in damages each. 

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