Judge Sets Deadlines in Haitian Boys' Suits

By Michael P. Mayko
Ct Post
January 9, 2012

BRIDGEPORT -- A federal judge set several deadlines and is mulling how to try the 20 federal lawsuits each seeking $20 million in damages brought by the alleged sexual abuse victims of Douglas Perlitz in Haiti.

The 20 cases, 17 of which were just filed last week, are in the process of being reassigned to U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall.

In meeting with the six plaintiff lawyers and 11 defense lawyers Monday, Hall mulled whether to try all the cases at once, separating the liability phase from the damage phases, or to take one of the cases to finish -- as a test case.

Additionally, she asked U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkle, who mediated settlements in the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport sex abuse cases, to conduct preliminary discussions with the lawyers.

Hall told the plaintiffs' lawyers to provide damage categories for each plaintiff as well as a "ballpark figure."

The cases arise from the conviction of Douglas Perlitz, once an honored Fairfield University graduate who, with the help of wealthy Roman Catholic contributors from Fairfield and Westchester County, created a program to help abandoned boys in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city. The 10-year-long program collapsed after Perlitz was arrested by federal authorities and charged with abusing nearly two dozen of the boys. He pleaded guilty to a federal charge of traveling to Haiti to engage in sex with a minor and is serving a 19-year, seven-month prison term.

The Haitian boys hired Mitchell Garabedian of Boston and Steven Errante of New Haven to sue Fairfield University; the Rev. Paul Carrier; his Society of Jesus order and the Haiti Fund.

Paul J. Hanly Jr., one of the boys' lawyers, said each victim would have to be brought to Miami.

, where medical experts could determine the extent of any physical and psychological damage.

Attorneys for the boys also sued 12 yet-to-be-identified individuals. Hall gave the plaintiffs' lawyers eight months to identify those individuals.


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