Sunday, May 6, 2012

No Response from Co-Chairs of Haiti Conference

March 6, 2012

Most Rev. Richard Malone
Most Rev. Guy Sansaricq
Haiti: One Table, Many Partners Conference
Catholic Relief Services
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Washington, D.C.

Dear Bishop Malone and Bishop Sansaricq,

We write today to strongly urge you to present and examine the criminal child sexual abuse case, United States of America v. Douglas Perlitz, at the upcoming “Haiti: One Table, Many Partners”  conference in June.

In December 2010, Douglas Perlitz, founder and former Executive Director of Project Pierre Toussaint in Haiti, was sentenced in Connecticut federal court to almost 20 years in prison for sexually abusing boys who were under his care in Haiti.

In 1997, Perlitz founded Project Pierre Toussaint (PPT) in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city, as a program to help street children. PPT provided shelter, food, and basic education for children living on the streets. Perlitz raised millions of dollars through grants and donations, and PPT grew to occupy a 10-acre compound with a school, dormitories, and a soccer field.

PPT was supported and funded by many Catholic organizations, including the Order of Malta, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, the Knights of Columbus, Fairfield University, the New England Society of Jesus and the Haiti Fund, Inc. a Connecticut based non-profit whose chairman, Rev. Paul Carrier, S.J., was the long-time Director of Campus Ministry at Fairfield University.

It is encouraging for us to know that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has included the protection of children on its agenda at the first national conference on solidarity with Haiti, to be held from June 1st to 3rd, 2012 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. According to your web site “there are over 400 U.S. parishes partnered with parishes in Haiti and many other Catholics who are involved in helping Haiti in one way or another.”

It is our firm belief that a presentation and discussion of the Perlitz case will provide conference attendees with the most comprehensive learning experience and inside look at the ways and means by which people and institutions in the United States failed to protect innocent children at their mission in Haiti due to a lack of checks, balances, systems, procedures and policies designed to protect children from abuse.

Therefore, we urge you to invite Assistant U.S. Attorney Krishna R. Patel, U.S. Attorney David B. Fein and Special Agent Rod Khattabi of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement to host these sessions. This landmark case established legal and law enforcement precedents by which a U.S. citizen will be prosecuted in U.S. federal court for crimes committed against children, no matter where in the world the crimes are committed.

Children in Haiti are even more vulnerable to sexual abuse because of a lack of law enforcement and an effective child protective services system. An examination of this particular case will
awaken and educate attendees as to how and why the charismatic U.S. director of a private school in Haiti was able to manipulate so many adults and harm so many children for so many years.

At the sentencing hearing, the attorneys representing Perlitz made every effort to remind the judge of all the “good works” that Perlitz had accomplished in Haiti. In response, the judge told Perlitz, “If one digs a well to supply water to those who have never had water, and then that person poisons the water, was building that well a good deed?"

We look forward to hearing from you.


Cyrus Sibert
Cap-Haitien, Haiti
Le Ré.Cit. - Réseau Citadelle

Paul Kendrick
Freeport, Maine

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