New Haiti Suits Level Claims against Rev. Carrier

By Michael P. Mayko
Ct Post
January 5, 2012

Attorney Mitchel Garabedian, left, comforts Paul Kendrick as he pauses to compose himself while discussing Haitian sexual abuse cases in a press conference at the Delmar Hotel in Southport on Thursday, January 5, 2012. Garabedian announced lawsuits of $20 million dollars for each count by Haitian victims of Douglas Perlitz. Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Connecticut Post |

FAIRFIELD -- The Rev. Paul E. Carrier, a prominent Fairfield County Jesuit priest who helped Douglas Perlitz establish a program for abandoned boys in Haiti, allegedly was present when Perlitz showed one of the boys pornography and also when Perlitz slept with another boy, according to federal court documents.

Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer representing 21 Haitian boys who claim they were sexually abused by Perlitz, further accused Carrier of being present when Perlitz "arranged a rendezvous" at his Cap-Haitien home "with one of the boys for late in the evening."

"All of these circumstances should have alerted Father Carrier ... that something was amiss in Perlitz's dealings with boys in his care at Project Pierre Toussaint," said Garabedian, who has sued Catholic dioceses and clergy across the country for sexual abuse.

Now Garabedian and Steven Errante, a New Haven lawyer, have filed 20 suits on behalf of 21 of the former students at Perlitz's Project Pierre Toussaint, citing violations of state, federal and international law.

Timothy P. O'Neill, Carrier's Boston lawyer, said he is not surprised that Garabedian voiced the allegations against his client, who was never charged with violating any criminal law.

"That's standard practice for plaintiffs' lawyers," O'Neill said. "He still has to prove it. It doesn't mean anything unless he proves it."

On Thursday, Garabedian, Paul Kendrick, a Fairfield University graduate and sexual abuse advocate, and the Rev. Robert Hoatson, who helped found Road to Recovery, a program for victims of clergy sexual abuse, announced the filings of 17 new lawsuits during a conference at the Delmar Hotel.

The suits claim the boys ranged in age from 9 to 21 years old when they were abused by Perlitz in his Bel Air home, at their dormitory in the residential school in Blue Hills and at a hotel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital city, between 1998 and 2008.

The lawsuits each seek $20 million in damages. They name Perlitz, Carrier and his Society of Jesus order; Hope Carter, a New Canaan philanthropist who, with Carrier, served on the board of the Haiti Fund, Project Pierre Toussaint's fund-raising arm; Fairfield University, which Perlitz attended, and the employer of Carrier and 12 yet-to-be named defendants of wrongdoing in the assaults. Only Perlitz is accused of assaulting the boys.

In 2010, Perlitz pleaded guilty to traveling to Haiti with the intent to have sex with a minor and was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in federal prison. No other person or entity was charged criminally in the case.

Stanley A. Twardy Jr., the lawyer for Fairfield University, said Perlitz's Project Pierre Toussaint "was a separate and distinct entity from Fairfield University."

The Stamford lawyer expressed confidence that the school, where donations were raised and volunteers were sent to Perlitz's program, will be dismissed from the cases.

The lawsuits also accuse Carter, who often visited Perlitz's program, of removing "one or more of his computers" from his Haitian home at his request while an investigation was ongoing. Carter then delivered them to Perlitz when he returned to the U.S., according to the suit.

Garabedian said one of those computers, a laptop seized during Perlitz September 2009 arrest in Colorado, was found by federal agents to have accessed sexually oriented websites involving young boys.

A call to Christopher Wanat, one of Carter's lawyers, was not returned Thursday.

The others are accused of violating state, federal and international laws by failing to take the appropriate actions to stop the assaults.


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