News

Sex Scandal Rocks Program for Haitian Youth

by Steve Weinstein
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Sep 21, 2009

A program to help Haitian youth is being rocked by a scandal involving sex-for-shelter with homeless street youth.

A Fairfield University social activist has been working for university-sponsored Project Pierre Toussaint for a decade. But now, Douglas Perlitz, 39, is being accused of using his position to provide food, shelter, food and money in return for sexual favors with homeless young men.

A Connecticut Fox TV news show is reporting that the Jesuit school is facing questions about the well-intentioned program. Perlitz is apparenlty willing to return to Connecticut to face charges.

At the same time, Rev. Paul Carrier, the university's former director of campus ministry and community service and chairman of the Toussaint board, is being sought in connection with the burgeoning scandal. A lawyer for the fund told the Connecticut Post that money for the fund "has evaporated."

More than $2 million was transferred from the Haiti Fund to an account in Haiti that Perlitz controlled. Perlitz is being accused of being a sexual predator who used money and gifts to lure boys.

"In order to entice and persuade the children to comply with the sex acts, Perlitz provided the promise of food and shelter and also provided monetary and other benefits, including, but not limited to, U.S. and foreign currency, cellphones, other electronics, shoes, clothes and other items," the newspaper quotes the indictment as alleging.

According to Fox, "Perlitz allegedly groomed the children for sexual acts, serving them alcohol and watching homosexual pornography with them in his private home. Perlitz encouraged the children by telling them not to be ashamed, according to the indictment. At other times, Perlitz would tell the children that he was 'crazy,' the indictment said."

Perlitz founded Project Pierre Toussaint in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second city. Perlitz opened two residences for Haitian boys, some as young as 6. Perlitz faces seven counts of traveling outside the U.S. for the purpose of engaging in sex with minors and three counts of engaging in sexual conduct in foreign places with minors. Perlitz allegedly abused nine young boys.

Perlitz was so respected that he delivered the school's commencement address in 2002 and was presented with an honorary degree.

Paul Kendrick is a Fairfield University graduate and abuse victims advocate who first raised questions about the program when he grew suspicious on a trip to Haiti in 2003.

reports that Perlitz founded the program in 1997, with the help of Carrier. The university has helped the program financially and with contacts to philanthropists. The university is cooperating in the investigation.

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).


Comments

  • , 2009-09-22 10:02:39

    Fr. Thomas Smolich, at the Jesuit USA headquarters in Washington, DC, should explain how children are allowed to be abused by a Jesuit-linked charity in Haiti - especially since Fr. Smolich wrote an editorial back in 2002 stating that the Jesuits had learned their lesson on stopping their sex abuse.


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