The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, August 8, 2011
Group applauds help for Haitian Catholic abuse victims
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003, [email protected])
We are grateful to the Connecticut judge who is sending sorely-needed funds to Haitian boys who were sexually violated by a well-connected Catholic figure.
It speaks well of our justice system when a proven child predator is forced to financially help those he has so severely hurt.
We still believe that other Catholic church employees and members in Connecticut knew of or suspected Perlitz's crimes and cover ups by top church officials. We urge them to find the courage to report what they know and have heard to law enforcement so that other wrong-doers can be exposed and punished.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Judge releases Perlitz funds to Haitian victims
Michael P. Mayko, Staff Writer
Published 09:10 p.m., Sunday, August 7, 2011
NEW HAVEN -- A federal judge has begun dispensing nearly $49,000 seized from a humanitarian turned sex abuser to 16 of his young male victims in Haiti.
U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton instructed Special Agent Rod Khattabi of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement to open 16 separate bank accounts with $1,000 each for Douglas Perlitz's victims in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second largest city.
The judge also ordered the clerk's office to wire an additional $1,000 to each of the accounts seven months from now and again in 14 months. That last wire advance will contain slightly more than $1,000 depending on interest rates.
Perlitz, a Fairfield University graduate honored by the school in 2002 for his work in creating this program, pleaded guilty to traveling overseas to engage in sex with a minor. He was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison.
Perlitz, 41, is serving the sentence at the federal prison in Seagoville, Texas, just 11 miles southeast of Dallas. His scheduled release date is Oct. 5, 2026.
The money was seized from two bank accounts and a retirement account that Perlitz maintained. Recently, Khattabi opened the accounts in Sogebank, one of the largest private commercial banks in Haiti.
"I think its smart the way the judge parcelled out the money," said Paul Kendrick, a Fairfield University graduate from Maine, who has been advocating for Perlitz's victims since 2008. "I'm glad she did it for the 16 victims not just the six who came here to testify at his sentencing."
While Americans may not consider $3,000 a windfall, Kendrick said "in Haiti, its like winning a big payout at the casino."
"Life in Haiti for these kids isn't just living in poverty, it's living in misery," he said. "Many of them didn't have food to eat everyday and were living on the street."
The non-governmental organizations working in Haiti estimate that it costs about $2 a day to feed a child there. Many of the boys were subsisting on a bottle of cooking oil and a bag of spaghetti and rice supplied weekly.
The 16 victims were among 80 students attending a three-phase educational program called Project Pierre Toussaint that Perlitz established in 1997 with a grant from the Order of Malta, a worldwide Roman Catholic charity. The program started in a parking lot providing food and clothing to homeless street boys.
But with nationwide publicity, support from Fairfield University and donations from wealthy Fairfield and Westchester County Catholics, it quickly grew into a block-long intake center, where kids would receive food, clothing and some schooling; an enclosed residential school on 10 acres of land for the more promising students and a group home for high school students.
The growth crumbled in 2007. That summer, several students complained to Cyrus Sibert, a Haitian journalist, who went public with their stories about the sexual abuse.
Within two years, donations dried up and the program shut down entirely during the summer of 2009. Once again, the boys were cast onto Cap-Haitien's dirty, dangerous streets to survive on their wits.
On Sept. 16, 2009, Perlitz was arrested in Colorado following a lengthy investigation headed by Khattabi, Assistant U.S. Attorney Krishna Patel and the Haitian National Police.
Following a year long court battle, which saw his indictment dismissed and new charges brought, Perlitz pleaded guilty last August and was sentenced by Arterton on Dec. 21.
Meanwhile, efforts to care for the 80 students were attempted by Kids Alive International, an Indiana-based charity with money from Fairfield University and the Order of Malta.
However after a few months problems arose and Kids Alive discontinued the program.
Now three of the victims have filed federal civil suits against Perlitz; Fairfield University; the Order of Malta; the Haiti Fund, a nonprofit charity; the Rev. Paul Carrier and his Society of Jesus Jesuit Order and nearly a dozen others.
Kendrick said another 19 will be filing shortly.
"I get weepy every time I think about these kids being represented in a federal court by their lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, with the same constitutional rights that any American kids would have."
Garabedian is a Boston lawyer who specializes in sexual-abuse cases against the clergy.
Kendrick said he is hopeful that the civil trial will put other non-governmental organizations on notice in formulating a child-abuse protection plan and code of behavior while working overseas.
He has contacted Cross International in Florida in seeking funding to the National Child Protection Training Center located at Winona State University in Minnesota to develop a set of rules and regulations.
Since the Perlitz case, Kendrick and Sibert have uncovered another case of alleged abuse in another charitable organization's home in Port au Prince.
Just last week, Khattabi and Patel were involved in the arrest of Jessie Osmun, a 32-year-old Milford man, accused of sexually abusing at least five girls, age 6 years and under, while working for the U.S. Peace Corps in Greystone, South Africa.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests