Saturday, September 15, 2012

Voice of the Faithful Presents 2012 "Catherine of Sienna" Award to Undeserving Recipient

COMMENTARY                                                                                                              By Paul Kendrick
          Joseph O'Callaghan, Professor Emeritus at Jesuit run Fordham University and an Officer of Voice
          of the Faithful's Bridgeport, CT affiliate, is the national VOTF organization's choice for its 2012  
          "Catherine of Sienna Award."
But four years ago, when the rubber hit the road for VOTF's O'Callaghan, he found himself between a rock and a hard place. He could speak out for truth, justice and accountability on behalf of more than two dozen Haitian children who were reporting that they were being sexually abused by Douglas Perlitz, U.S. citizen Executive Director of Project Pierre Toussaint (a boarding school in northern Haiti operated by Fairfield University's Campus Ministry operation), or he could do and say nothing in order to protect and preserve his and VOTF's cozy and comfortable relationship with Fairfield University and the New England Jesuits.

When the first reports of the sexual abuse of these Haitian children made their way back to affluent Fairfield County, CT in late 2007, the Catholic organizations (Fairfield University, New England Jesuits, Order of Malta) that had so proudly supported the Haiti school for more than a decade, abandoned the victims entirely. Fairfield University's former campus ministry director, Rev. Paul Carrier, S.J., and eleven other supporters of Perlitz (including other Fairfield University employees) wrote a letter to donors in which they called the abuse victims liars. The school in Haiti was forced to close for lack of funds. The children were forced back into the streets with nothing to eat, no safe place to sleep, no money for school tuition and the horror and trauma of their abuse by Douglas Perlitz.

Perlitz, an alumnus of Fairfield University, is a former keynote commencement speaker and "Alumnus of the Year." The university took every opportunity to brag about Perlitz's humanitarian work in Haiti. For ten years, the campus ministry operation, led by Jesuit priest, Paul Carrier, immersed itself in managing and raising money for the school in Haiti.

In December 2010, Perlitz was sentenced to almost 20 years in a U.S. federal prison.

When survivor advocates in New England raised money to help pay for a weekly ration of spaghetti and beans, books, school supplies, tuition, glasses and shoes for the abuse victims, O'Callaghan and his VOTF cronies in Connecticut didn't lift a finger to help.

When officials at Fairfield University and the New England Province of Jesuits tried to cover up the abuse of children at Project Pierre Toussaint, O'Callaghan and his VOTF organization remained silent.

O'Callaghan and the VOTF Bridgeport affiliate are closely aligned with Dr. Paul Lakeland, Chairman of Fairfield University's Catholic Studies program. VOTF Bridgeport members hold their annual conference on the Fairfield University campus. Two years in a row, I asked for just ten minutes time to address the annual conference's attendees about the plight of the abuse victims in Haiti. O'Callaghan and his VOTF team said "No" on both occasions.

You see, it is more important to Joseph O'Callaghan that he get along with the powers that be at Fairfield University and the Jesuits of New England. O'Callaghan enjoys the prestige of Dr. Paul Lakeland's friendship and does not want to be out of favor with his long time former employer, Fordham University and the Jesuits in New York. It is important to O'Callaghan that his VOTF group be able to hold their annual conference at Fairfield University in cooperation with Fairfield's Catholic Studies Program.

In April 2011, the first of 24 landmark civil lawsuits was filed in Federal Court in Connecticut. Defendants include Fairfield University, The New England Jesuits and the Order of Malta, among others, all of whom are employing hardball tactics in their pursuit of legal loopholes and technicalities to avoid bringing the civil cases before a jury.

Yet, Joseph O'Callaghan, VOTF's 2012 Catherine of Sienna award winner remains silent. He says and does absolutely nothing to support these abuse victims in their pursuit of a fair measure of justice for their harms and injuries and the failure of individuals and institutions to protect them.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why is Free the Kids Board Member, Nelson J. Vogel, Jr., Ignoring the Protection of Haitian Children from Sexual Abuse?

July 29, 2012

Nelson J. Vogel, Jr.
Barnes & Thornburg LLP
600 1st Source Bank Center
100 North Michigan
South Bend, Indiana 46601

Dear Mr. Vogel,

I am writing to you in your capacity as a member of the Board of Directors of Free the Kids, the Norh Carolina based non-profit, that supports and directs Pwoje Espwa in Les Cayes, Haiti.

With 600 children in residence, Pwoje Espwa is one of the largest orphanages in Haiti. Its founder and director, Rev. Marc Boisvert, OMI, is a Catholic priest and U.S. citizen who belongs to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate religious order.

By this letter, I am asking you to respond to ongoing concerns by child protection advocates of an incident that occurred at Pwoje Espwa in May 2011.

Brother Robert-Anthony Campbell, FSD, a live-in volunteer at Pwoje Espwa, wrote on his blog that he put his hands all over ("washed from head to toe" and shampooed the hair) the naked body of an 11 year old boy who lives at the orphanage. In addition, Brother Campbell's blog contained disturbing references to other children. 

When I asked Brother Campbell about the incident, he immediately shut down his blog.

When I asked Father Boisvert about the incident, Boisvert shut down the ability to post comments on his blog.

When child protection advocates asked Father Boisvert for a copy of Pwoje Espwa's Child Protection Policy, Boisvert ignored all requests.

When I asked Father Boisvert to conduct a professional investigation of the incident by a trained forensic investigator, I was told by Jim Cavnar, President of Cross International (Cross International provides $500,000 each year to Pwoje Espwa), that an "attorney" had investigated the matter and there was nothing to it.

Case closed - at least in the minds of all interested parties at Pwoje Espwa.

Brother Campbell was hastily recalled to Troy, NY by his superiors.

Father Boisvert is currently on a 6 month sabbatical.

By coincidence, two individuals from Maine are members of the orphanage's board of directors; Dr. Cynthia DeSoi of Lewiston and Portland attorney, Robert Morris.

Board members, DeSoi and Morris, are hostile to concerns about child safety at Pwoje Espwa.

It's reminiscent, don't you think, of what we know now about the child sexual abuse coverup at Penn State?

Lot's of people looking the other way. Lots of people putting the institution first and the safety and well being of the children last.

I couldn't help but notice, Mr. Vogel, that you are a former president of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization in South Bend, Indiana. As president, did you, your staff and your fellow board members ignore the safety of the children and young people you served?

It is incumbent upon you, as a member of the Pwoje Espwa Board of Directors, to insist that a proper investigation of the incident between Brother Campbell and the naked 11 year old boy be conducted by an experienced professional who is trained in child sexual abuse investigations.

It is also incumbent upon you, Mr. Vogel, to insist that Free the Kids (Pwoje Espwa) publish the organization's Child Protection Policy and Code of Behavior on its web site.    

Why would you want to do any less?



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fountain Street Church Pastor is Endangering Lives of Innocent Haitian Children

Rev. Patrick Hamrick, Pastor of the Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan is aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of children in Haiti.

Hamrick won't suspend an accused child molester from his duities pending the results of an investigation by U.S. ICE/Homeland Security investigators. 

Hamrick is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hearts with Haiti, a North Carolina based non-profit that provides most of the funding for the St. Joseph's Homes in the Port au Prince area.

Michael Geilenfeld is the Executive Director of the St. Joseph's Homes. Geilenfeld is under investigation by U.S. federal agents for multiple counts of child sexual abuse.

Geilenfeld is threatening and intimidating abuse victims and witnesses. He must leave Haiti immediately so that the investigation may proceed.

When confronted with allegations of child sexual abuse, responsible adults immediately remove the accused perpetrator from having any access or contact with children until a complete investigation is conducted.

There is something very fundamentally wrong with Rev. Patrick Hamrick.

What kind of person is it that doesn't do everything possible to protect innocent children from sexual abuse?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Child Sexual Abuse Victims and Witnesses Are Being Threatened and Intimidated at Haiti Orphanage

HWH Board Haiti
2011 Hearts With Haiti Board Meeting, Haiti

The HWH Board of Trustees is made up of irresponsible individuals who are enabling the sexual abuse of children in Haiti by St. Joseph's Homes Director, Michael Geilenfeld (back row center, blue shirt and beard). Multiple reports of child sexual abuse have been made against Geilenfeld, yet the Trustees refuse to remove Geilenfeld from his position as executive director (and from Haiti) until an investigation is completed. Geilenfeld is threatening and intimidating victims and witnesses.

 Chair: Rev. Patrick S. Hamrick (

        Executive Minister, Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan
        Why I Serve: “I support this organization because it is small, targeted, and effective.” 

 Vice Chair: Dr. Rolvix Patterson (
        Physician, Trent Woods, North Carolina
        Why I Serve: “I am part of the St. Joseph Family because this is, without a doubt, the best ministry I have ever come across in my lifetime.”

Secretary: Paul D’Oliveira (
        President, Paul Bunyan, Inc. Concord, MA, Member, Concord (MA) Rotary Club 
        Why I Serve: “I want to help ensure SJF continues on and grows for another 26 years.”  

Treasurer, Ex-Officio: Jerry Slaymaker (
        Retired Administrator and Consultant,, Cary, North Carolina, 
        Why I Serve: “I am fortunate that I can be part of an organization clearly meeting God’s call by caring for the very least fortunate individuals in Haiti.”

 Michael Geilenfeld (
        Founder and Executive Director, St. Joseph Family Homes, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, accused of multiple counts of child sexual abuse. 
        Why I Serve: “I believe that by being a part of the St. Joseph Family I am able to help downtrodden and misunderstood children see the best in themselves as well as seeing the presence of Christ in their lives.”   
        Open Source Software Developer, Raleigh, North Carolina
        Why I Serve: "Visiting Haiti and spending time with the St. Joseph Family was a life-changing experience for me.  The call to give back to those that gave me so much was too strong to ignore."

Rev. Roy Howard (
        Minister, North Bethesda, Maryland
        Why I Serve: "I serve because it provides an opportunity to be connected, through the SJF, to the people in Haiti in a way that brings hope, encouragement, and a solid foundation for their future.  This relationship is mutual, bringing me hope and encouragement from the faithful resilience of those in the St. Joseph Family."

Rev. Matthew Miller (
        Minister, Sioux City, Iowa
        Why I Serve: " I serve on the HWH Board because I have seen first-hand how God is at work through the SJF, bringing out the beauty of young lives that others would have discarded.  The homes of the SJF, each in their own way, testify to the power of resurrection.  Serving on the Board gives me the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing there."

Rev. Jarrett McLaughlin (
        Minister, Prairie Village, Kansas 
        Why I Serve: “SJF taught me about resurrection.” 

Bill Nathan
        Director, St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
        Why I Serve: Why I Serve: ”I am so proud to be part of the Family and be able to give back, because the Family has given me so much over the years.” 

Rev. Dr. Shelley Wiley, Founding Board Member (
        Minister, Professor, Enon, Ohio
        Why I Serve: “I keep going back because love is put into practice in these homes, and it is life-changing to be a part of it.”
        Businesswoman, Richmond, Virginia
        Why I Serve: " I serve on the Hearts with Haiti Board of Trustees because I became one with the SJF during my fateful stay there in January, 2010.  The emotional roller coaster, from the joyous RDTH performance the night before the quake, to the terror and anguish of the earthquake itself, bonded me for life with this precious group of children of God."
Executive Director: Geoffrey Hamlyn (
        Why I Serve: “I believe that the most impactful charities are those that maintain a consistent focus on mission and operate within a core value structure that elevates human rights, dignity, and equality.   The St. Joseph Family is an extraordinary and unique ministry that fulfills this vision with unparalleled success and Hearts with Haiti is invested in helping it realize its dreams.”   
Office Manager: Rane Winslow