Fairfield alum and 2002 commencement speaker Doug Perlitz ’92 was indicted by a Bridgeport grand jury on Thursday on 10 counts surrounding allegations that he sexually abused at least nine children while working as a missionary in Haiti.
While some members of the Fairfield University community have traveled to Haiti to work with Perlitz and even supported him financially, the University denies any involvement in the charges and say they had no knowledge of the events that occurred in Haiti until the indictment was released.
The University released the following statement today:
“Since the founding of the Haiti program in 1997, called Project Pierre Touissant, individual members of the University community – faculty, staff, and students – have supported the school with their time, talents, and financial resources, as have community members who participated in services at the University’s Chapel.”
Perlitz was so honored at Fairfield for his continued work in Haiti that he was asked to be the commencement speaker at the 2002 ceremony.
The indictment states that Perlitz brought children from the streets of Haiti into his established program, and used bribes of food, alcohol, and other gifts in exchange for sexual acts. The boys in the poverty-stricken country were as young as six years old and were living on the streets when Perlitz brought them into the program.
The University statement continues: “The charges involved in this case are shocking and very troubling and it is important that the judicial process move forward appropriately.”
Perlitz first went to Haiti in his junior year at Fairfield. He was supported by the nonprofit organization, Haiti Fund, Inc., which was run by former Fairfield director of campus ministry Rev. Paul Carrier, until Carrier was removed from the position in 2006. The indictment also shows that $2 million was moved from the Haiti Fund to an account in Haiti controlled by Perlitz and that some of that money was given to the boys in exchange for sexual acts.
Carrier was not charged in the indictment.
The Mirror, along with other publications, was notified in February that such allegations existed against Perlitz, yet no public statement had been made against Perlitz until Thursday. Because of such allegations, Project Pierre Touissant’s financial board forced Perlitz to leave the organization in 2008. The school was closed by early 2009.
The Mirror will have much more on the story as it develops this weekend.