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jeudi 19 juillet 2012
Settlement talks fail for Perlitz sex cases. (CONNECTICUT POST)
Settlement talks fail for Perlitz sex cases
Michael P. Mayko
Updated 11:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Doug Perlitz. Photo: File Photo, ST / Connecticut Post File Photo
HARTFORD -- A failed first attempt at settling nearly two dozen cases seeking hundreds of millions for 23 Haitian street boys who claim they were abused by Douglas Perlitz while enrolled in his school led a federal judge to schedule a conference Friday on how to proceed.
U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny ordered lawyers representing the plaintiffs and the 21 defendants to appear before him Friday to schedule pre-trial motions and hearings as well as discuss any concerns.
His decision came after receiving a report that a full-day mediation session involving all the parties July 9 "was not successful."
On Tuesday, Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who specializes in sexual abuse cases against clergy, and Steven Errante, of New Haven, filed a 22nd federal suit seeking $20 million in damages each from Perlitz; the Rev. Paul Carrier, Perlitz's Fairfield University mentor who helped him create the Project Pierre Toussaint program in Cap-Haitien; Fairfield University; the Haiti Fund, Project Pierre Toussaint's fundraising arm; the Order of Malta, a worldwide Catholic Charity; Hope Carter, a New Canaan philanthropist, and 15 others.
The new suit names Mackenson Michel as the lone plaintiff. He claims he was 14 in 2004 when Perlitz began sexually abusing him. The suit accuses Perlitz of providing money and a DVD player to the boy in exchange for sex over a three-year period.
"Before many of these sexual abuse victims met Douglas Perlitz, they were homeless, without food and had very little clothing. Now, many of these victims are still homeless, without food, have very little clothing and are also suffering from the emotional and physical trauma Douglas Perlitz inflicted on them," Garabedian said. "These victims are in a much worse position today than when they began attending Project Pierre Toussaint, met Douglas Perlitz and were sexually molested by him."
Perlitz pleaded guilty in 2010 to traveling from the U.S. to Haiti for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor. He is serving a 19-year, seven-month federal prison sentence.
Days before his sentence, Perlitz claimed he became involved in a sexual affair with Carrier shortly after arriving at Fairfield University as a freshman in 1998. Carrier was the school's director of campus ministry and chaplain.
Shortly after that claim, Carrier's Society of Jesus, New England Province began an investigation and suspended him of clerical duties.
Attempts to contact the Society of Jesus and Timothy P. O'Neill, his Boston lawyer, for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday. In the past O'Neill has denied his client did anything wrong and cast doubt on Perlitz' claimed relationship with Carrier.
Court documents and Haitian sources claim Carrier and Carter frequently visited Perlitz and his program in Haiti.
The new suit alleges that Carrier saw Perlitz show a pornographic video to a student, heard Perlitz arrange a rendezvous with a boy, watched Perlitz press his body against a boy's back in an embrace and was a visitor when a boy slept in Perlitz's bedroom.
"All of these circumstances should have alerted Father Carrier ... that something was amiss in Perlitz's dealings with the boys in his care at PPT," Garabedian wrote in the suit.
The suit claims that Fairfield University raised over $600,000 for the Haiti Fund, which turned the money over to Perlitz.
Stanley A. Twardy Jr., the school's lawyer, has maintained that Fairfield University is a "separate and distinct entity" from Project Pierre Toussaint. He and other defense lawyers are asking Chatigny to dismiss the cases.
The new suit disclosed that from 1997 to 2008, the Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic charity whose initial grant helped establish Perlitz's program, also provided it with at least $25,000 a year. In 2007, the Order of Malta honored Perlitz for his "work and dedication to Malta's Pierre Toussaint School for Boysin Haiti."
For now Chatigny consolidated the cases only for pre-trial issues. He has not decided if that will continue to the trial stage.
Lawyers representing some of the defendants believe each case presents specific issues and should be tried separately.