Michael P. Mayko
Updated 8:40 am, Tuesday, April 2, 2013
HARTFORD — Charges of widespread sexual abuse by the director of a program funded by wealthy area Catholics and created to help abandoned Haitian boys appears headed to trial.
U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny, who is presiding over the 22 cases each seeking more than $20 million, began clearing the way for trial by dismissing several of the charges while allowing others including the negligent supervision of Douglas Perlitz to stand. No date has been set for the trial as of Tuesday.
Perlitz, a Fairfield University graduate whose work in Haiti garnered him national attention, is serving a 19-year, seven-month federal prison term after he pleaded guilty to traveling overseas to engage in sex with a minor. During his sentencing he admitted there were several victims.
Shortly after Perlitz’s sentencing, 23 of those victims permitted Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who has won millions suing Catholic priests and their Dioceses on sexual abuse charges, to pick up their cause. In the suits, Garabedian named the Rev. Paul Carrier, a former chaplain at Fairfield University and Perlitz’s mentor; Fairfield University and the Society of Jesus New England, Carrier’s order as defendants for being negligent in their supervision of the program. He also sued Hope Carter, a New Canaan philanthropist; the Order of Malta, American Association, which provided the 1997 start-up grant to Perlitz and the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes along with 15 others on similar negligence charges. Carter and Carrier also were directors of the Haiti Fund, a nonprofit organization that raised money for Perlitz’s programs. Each suit seeks $20 million in damages from each defendant.
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