Freeport man wins appeal in long-running defamation lawsuit

Portland Press Herald


A federal appeals court in Boston ruled Thursday in favor of a Freeport man who had been sued and found guilty of defamation because of statements he made about the founder of an orphanage in Haiti.

Paul Kendrick was accused of defamation after he began a widely disseminated email campaign in January 2011 accusing Michael Geilenfeld, the American founder of an orphanage in Haiti, of sexually abusing the boys in his care. Kendrick later widened the campaign to include Hearts with Haiti, the North Carolina charity that raised donations to fund the orphanage.

The lawsuit led to a complex, long-running case and ultimately to Thursday’s ruling, which happened to be written by David Souter, a retired U.S. Supreme Court justice who sometimes takes on circuit court cases.

In the ruling, the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a June 2016 decision by a federal judge in Portland who dismissed the defamation case and a $14.5 million verdict against Kendrick.

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