Fairfield University, Society of Jesus of New England, and Order of Malta Agree to Settle Lawsuit and Pay Haitian Boys Victimized by Perlitz at School They Oversaw
NEW YORK – A settlement agreement has been reached to pay $60 million to more than 100 Haitian boys sexually assaulted by convicted pedophile Douglas Perlitz at the school he operated in Haiti, according to amended complaints filed today by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian and New York City law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy.
The $60 million will be paid by Fairfield University; the Society of Jesus of New England; the Order of Malta, American Association, USA; Haiti Fund, Inc.; Father Paul E. Carrier, S.J.; and Hope E. Carter. At least 133 victims have said Perlitz sexually abused them when they were minors at Project Pierre Toussaint (PPT) in Cap-Haïtien, a school he operated under the auspices of these institutions.
“This was a horrific situation that was allowed to take place in Haiti, and we are pleased we can help our clients move on with their lives,” said Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Paul J. Hanly Jr., co-lead counsel on the case with Mitchell Garabedian. “All of Perlitz’s victims, including the 133 we represent, as well as others who have yet to come forward, will have the opportunity to participate in the settlement. It was also a privilege to work alongside Mitchell Garabedian, who showed an unyielding commitment to seeking justice for these young men. The settlement in this case underscores the consequences , here in the United States as well as in other countries, of the Catholic Church’s continued failure to implement appropriate safeguards against abuse.”
The lawsuits allege that Perlitz frequently flew back to Fairfield, Connecticut, to raise money for PPT. From 1999 to 2008, donors gave millions to support Perlitz’s activities with PPT. Perlitz used portions of these funds to groom his minor victims and to provide them with gifts or money in exchange for sexual acts. The Haiti Fund and Fairfield University knew that Perlitz used substantial portions of these funds to finance his frequent trips to, and extended stays in, Haiti. The Haiti Fund and Fairfield University, operated by the New England Jesuit Order, failed to institute generally accepted safeguards – or any safeguards – to prevent the abuses which occurred.
As part of the settlement agreement, which must be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny, the lawsuits filed will be converted to a class action lawsuit and settlement. That will allow others who may have been assaulted by Perlitz to file a claim and seek compensation from the $60 million pool.
In 2013, the same defendants paid $12 million to settle similar claims brought by 24 other young men victimized by Perlitz when they were children.