On a rainy Wednesday morning, Doug Perlitz ’92 was led into the Court Room 3 at the Richard C. Lee U.S. Court House in New Haven, a denim jacket covering his khaki prison jumpsuit, with his family sitting behind him for support. Meanwhile, a group of Haitian supporters sat across the courtroom, providing a voice for the children.
Perlitz’s appearance was his second in court since being arraigned on 10 counts of traveling to engage in sexual conduct with a minor by a Bridgeport grand jury in September. Perlitz operated Project Pierre Toussaint, a charitable school in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, when the abuse was alleged to have occurred.
The purpose of this hearing was to determine whether Perlitz should be released on bail, but the government also released new evidence, including that Perlitz’s computer was found to contain over 100 images of nude black males performing sex acts along with numerous URLs to various sex Websites.
William F. Dow III, Perlitz’s lead lawyer, opened by saying that the federal Magistrate Judge Joan G. Margolis had set forth conditions for release, but the defense had not yet met the requirements. Dow asked for the right to continue the matter at a later date if the defense should choose to. The government’s petition for detainment was granted without prejudice.
“It’s an extraordinary bond requirement,” said Dow after the hearing. “It involves a bunch of moving parts, like playing three-level chess.”
He said that the bond issues were largely mechanical and that the defense plans to eventually contest the detention once it has better met the bail requirements. During the initial portion of the hearing, before the 20 day recess and continuation, the judge seemed to indicate that she would accept a bond in the $4-5 million range along with increased third-party custodians.
This hearing comes on the heels of two motions filed yesterday, one by Dow outlining a new proposed package for release, which included 19 other people to raise bail money along with 12 more third-party back-up custodians. Dow said that motion was just an outline of a package and that it is a”dynamic one, not a static one, pieces have to be filled in.”
That motion was followed by a rebuttal by the government. The government also attached “Exhibit A,” which stated that after a very preliminary investigation by an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent, Perlitz’s computer was found to contain “younger-looking black males engaged in graphic homosexual activity (e.g. oral and anal sex.)” along with links to Websites such as www.islandboys.com, www.spankteenboys.com, forum.afriboyz.com and www.nudeafricanboys.com.
“We haven’t seen any information about what they are alleging with the computer,” said Dow. “There is nothing illegal about any of the conduct the government described.”
He added that these type of allegations are intended to serve as “lightening rods” to raise support for the prosecutor’s case in the public eye.
But in the end the allegations may have accomplished that goal, at least according to those who attended to speak against Perlitz’s potential release. The new information may have helped turn the tide against releasing Perlitz, according to Henri Alexander, a lawyer and member of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN). He said that he thought that some people who may have been willing to support Perlitz now do not want their names associated with the case.
Alexander, along with Ezili Danto, the founder of the HLLN, attended the hearing along with 10 Haitians to give the people of Haiti a voice after the previous hearing which was well-attended by Perlitz supports, a fact pointed out several times by Dow during that portion of the hearing.
“We’re not too, too informed about the case,” said Odelin Francois, the president of Global Network for Progress, which strives to provide impoverished children an education. “But from what we’ve heard, we feel he is preying on poor black kids. He gives them bread and education so he can use them. Black kids are not for sale and not for abuse. We can provide for ourselves, we don’t need these people.”
Gina Magloirie, another Haitian who came up from New York City to support the motion to detain Perlitz, said that the next time, even more Haitians would come. She compared it to the time when Haitians were blamed for AIDS and they “shut down New York City and marched across the bridge. We made history and we will do it again.”
She was referring to April 1990 when more than 50,000 people crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, poured in lower Manhattan and surrounded City Hall to protest a Food and Drug Administration ban on blood donations from Haitians as a precaution against spreading AIDS.
Magloirie said that she and her fellow Haitians will come to the court house “until the judge is tired of seeing our faces. We will be here in snow, rain; we don’t care.”
After the hearing, supporters of detaining Perlitz stood outside holding signs with phrases such as, “Justice for the Haitian Children,”No Bail for Pedophile,” and “Doug Perlitz Pedophile.”
Paul Kendrick ’72, who has spoken out against releasing Perlitz on bail, also attended the hearing, making the trip from Maine. Kendrick plans to meet with Fairfield University administrators in early November and call on them to raise money for the school in Haiti that Perlitz founded. It is currently being supported by remaining members of the Haiti Fund, including current chairman Michael McCooey, who split away when allegations were made against Perlitz. McCooey and the others still involved did not sign a letter, as some board members did, defending Perlitz.
Kendrick also emphasized that the University should try to help the suffering Haitian children, rather than try and distance themselves from the case. The Project Pierre Toussaint school is currently being watched by guards paid for by McCooey, according to Kendrick, because it is a target for looting and vandalism.
Pictures from the protest outside the courthouse