Men Alleging Priest Abused Them in Haiti Testify in Maine Defamation Trial

By Darren Fishell
Bangor Daily News
July 16, 2015

Former Catholic brother Michael Geilenfeld was cleared of sex abuse allegations in a controversial trial in Haiti. But those allegations resurfaced Thursday during Geilenfeld’s defamation lawsuit in federal court against Paul Kendrick, a Freeport resident who continued publicly to accuse Geilenfeld of sexually abusing minors after the trial in Haiti.

As the defamation trial neared the end of its second week in federal court in Portland, Kendrick’s attorney on Thursday introduced testimony from men in Haiti who allege that Geilenfeld abused them.

Geilenfeld, 63, and his nonprofit Hearts with Haiti in 2013 filed a lawsuit against Kendrick, 65, an advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse, alleging that Kendrick waged a “campaign of vicious, unrelenting and merciless attacks” that damaged his reputation.

That left the North Carolina-based nonprofit for which he worked in Haiti unable to raise money to rebuild orphanages damaged in a massive 2010 earthquake, Geilenfeld has alleged.

In a pretrial brief filed last month, Geilenfeld’s attorney Peter DeTroy claimed his client’s damages “far exceed[ed] $10 million.” The charity has claimed losses of more than $2 million in donations, according to court documents.

Kendrick’s defense in the defamation case relies in part on seeking to prove that the allegations against Geilenfeld are true. Kendrick said Thursday he does not believe the victims were granted due process before courts in Haiti.

The defense for Kendrick presented its first witnesses Thursday who claim Geilenfeld abused them during stays at the Port au Prince orphanage Geilenfeld founded, called St. Joseph’s Home for Boys.

Daniel Madrigal, who now lives in Massachusetts, took the stand first, testifying in person that he eventually arrived at St. Joseph’s after a government crisis in 1994 led to the dissolution of the orphanage where he spent his early years.

“I slept in the street then,” Madrigal said.

He said he went to St. Joseph’s on the recommendation of a government social worker, where he received clean clothes, a place to stay and work in the kitchen. He said he was told he would start school the next year.

Madrigal claimed he was assaulted one day after Geilenfeld had given him a portable cassette player with two cassettes by Phil Collins and Bryan Adams.

“He touched my pants and said, ‘you’re cute,’” Madrigal said. “I didn’t speak English at that time.”

He claimed Geilenfeld later attempted to sexually assault him.

Madrigal’s claims of assault were echoed by a second witness, Jean Rony St. Victor, who also said he was abused by Geilenfeld as a minor.

Both witnesses claimed that Geilenfeld promised continued living stipends and travel in exchange for an unspecified “sacrifice.”

“(Geilenfeld) told me I had to ‘make the sacrifice” for the house, and I would live like a little prince,” St. Victor said in a sworn deposition taken in Port au Prince and played for the jury Thursday.

DeTroy, the attorney for Geilenfeld, declined to comment on the substance of the allegations Thursday, but noted that the testimony and depositions Thursday were not new to him or his client.

In opening arguments, DeTroy said his client is “a remarkable person … fueled by a dream to found a home for the cast-out, lost boys of Haiti.”

DeTroy rested his client’s case before the victim testimony began, after calling as a witness attorney Alain Lemithe, who defended Geilenfeld against abuse allegations in Haiti.

Lemithe discussed the process by which Geilenfeld was tried and requirements for those allegations to be proven before a judge.

“First and foremost, (a judge) needs some tangible proof,” Lemithe said. “Some certificates, some complaints and things that can lead him to conclude that indeed this act had happened.”

Court proceedings will resume at 9 a.m. Friday and are expected to enter a third week with closing arguments either Monday or Tuesday.








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