More than 20 Haitian nationals suing Weston priest, others in sex abuse lawsuit
A former student at a school for disadvantaged youth in Haiti has joined 22 other former pupils in filing a lawsuit against a Jesuit priest now living in Weston and others, alleging the defendants did nothing to stop the school’s former director from sexually abusing them over a 10-year period.
In a civil complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Connecticut, a man living in Haiti who is currently in his early 20s says the Rev. Paul E. Carrier, Fairfield University, and other defendants are liable for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Douglas Perlitz, 42, former director of Project Pierre Toussaint in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.
The Globe does not name alleged victims of sexual abuse unless they are willing to have their names published.
According to the man’s complaint, Carrier, a former Fairfield chaplain, the university, and other defendants established the school, provided funding for it, and ignored signs of Perlitz’s actions.
A lawyer for Fairfield, Stanley A. Twardy Jr., said the university expects to be cleared.
“We feel that this complaint, like the others, should be and will be dismissed by the court,” he said. “It fails as a matter of law to state a claim against the university and further contains factual inaccuracies.”
He said those inaccuracies include the contention that Perlitz worked for the university.
Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer for the alleged victim and the other men who have filed lawsuits, said Monday that the abuse occurred between 1998 and 2008 when the victims were between the ages of 9 and 21.
He said the lawsuits filed by most of the other former students have been consolidated into a single case in federal court in Connecticut.
Carrier could not be reached for comment. One of his lawyers in Connecticut referred questions to his Boston-based attorneys, who also could not be reached.
Last week, Carrier’s lawyers asked a federal judge in Boston to compel Immigration and Customs Enforcement to turn over records of statements made by Perlitz’s victims and other students and staff at the school, among other items. ICE had been involved in the criminal investigation into Perlitz.
Perlitz admitted in 2010 in federal court in Connecticut to abusing eight Project Pierre Toussaint students and is serving a 19½-year prison sentence, court records show.
According to the complaint filed Tuesday, Carrier, who also served as a director of a non-profit affiliated with Project Pierre Toussaint, saw underage students in Perlitz’s bedroom in Haiti, saw Perlitz show at least one student a pornographic video, and was present at least once when Perlitz arranged a meeting with a boy for later in the evening.
Carrier stopped meeting with a school administrator who confronted Perlitz and also obstructed efforts to investigate him, according to the complaint.
The alleged victim was repeatedly assaulted by Perlitz from 2004 to 2007, beginning when he was 14, according to his lawsuit.
Twardy, the lawyer representing Fairfield, said Carrier served as a university chaplain for 18 years until April 2006 at the direction of the Society of Jesus of New England.
A spokeswoman for the society, which is also a named defendant in the lawsuits, said in an e-mail that the Haitian school “was not a mission of the Society of Jesus of New England, and the society believes it has not been properly named as a defendant in these cases. We continue to pray for all persons impacted by these tragic circumstances.”
Perlitz, a Fairfield alumnus, delivered the university’s commencement address in 2002 and urged graduates to “remember to offer all you are — your whole heart, mind, and soul — to those you meet on your way, especially those who have no way,” according to an article published the following fall in a university magazine.
Garabedian said each of the 23 plaintiffs in the civil suits are seeking $20 million in damages, and he is investigating additional claims.Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.