Slander Trial of Freeport Man over Abuse at Haiti Orphanages Set for July

By Judy Harrison
Bangor Daily News
May 14, 2015

Paul Kendrick

The jury trial of a Freeport man being sued for slander over allegations of sexual abuse of boys at a Haitian orphanage is set to begin July 8 in U.S. District Court.

The trial was delayed after Michael Geilenfeld, a former Catholic brother, was detained in Port au Prince beginning Sept. 5 while a criminal investigation into abuse allegations was conducted, according to court documents. He was released April 29 after being exonerated.

Geilenfeld and Hearts with Haiti, a North Carolina-based nonprofit that raised money for the orphanages he ran, in February 2013 sued Paul Kendrick, 65, of Freeport. The plaintiffs alleged that Kendrick’s false allegations that Geilenfeld has sexually abused children has defamed the organization and caused fundraising events in the U.S. to be cancelled.

They are asking U.S. District Judge John Woodcock to order Kendrick to stop making the statements and to remove all those that have been published on the Internet. The lawsuit also is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

It took 237 days for Geilenfeld to be cleared of the allegations in Haiti.

“After full prosecution in the Haitian criminal justice system, the criminal court in Haiti entered judgment in his favor on all charges,” according to a document filed this month in federal court in Portland. “Most of the charges were dismissed before trial after investigation by the investigative judge, based on insufficient evidence; one charge for alleged ‘public indecency’ under Haitian criminal law was found in Geilenfeld’s favor after trial by the Haitian criminal trial judge.”

Haiti has an inquisitorial system of criminal justice in which a judge investigates the case and makes recommendations as to whether to proceed criminally, according to documents filed in Portland. The judge then hands the case over to a prosecutor for review. Once the judge receives the prosecutor’s comments, the judge must decide whether to issue “an ordinance,” which is similar to a probable cause determination, before charges can be filed.

Kendrick has said that witnesses will testify at the trial about sexual abuse at the orphanages in Haiti and his accusations will be verified. He also has said the decision in Haiti is being appealed.

Last month, Woodcock, who will preside over the trial that is scheduled to last three weeks, ordered Kendrick to pay $8,000 in attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs.

The judge found on Feb. 20, after a hearing the previous month, that Kendrick had violated a court order not to make public documents that had been gathered during the discovery process. Lawyers for Hearts with Haiti sought more than $28,000 in reimbursement.

Kendrick’s attorneys, based in Bangor, said work on the motions seeking the sanction should have cost about $3,800.

Kendrick, who has maintained that Geilenfeld has sexually abused boys for decades, has said he would go to jail rather than pay the charity’s legal fees. As an alternative, he would make a donation to a Miami-based nonprofit that provides education and “culturally competent counseling and therapy services to victims of child sexual abuse and their families in the Haitian community.”








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