It’s been over 13 months since his almost 20 year sentence was issued, yet the effects of Fairfield University alumnus Doug Perlitz’s actions are still being felt by many.
Seventeen Haitian men have recently brought lawsuits against Fairfield University, the Society of Jesuits and various other figures tied to Perlitz, according to the Associated Press. The lawsuits allege that these organizations and figures failed in their duty to protect these men from Perlitz years ago despite numerous warning signs.
The lawsuit seeks $20 million for each of the seventeen victims. These proceedings increase the alleged number of boys abused by Perlitz to 21.
So how exactly is Fairfield University tied in this time around? The cases assert that in addition to raising over $600,000 for Perlitz’s non-for-profit organization Project Pierre Toussant, the university is responsible for hiring Perlitz and neglecting to adequately monitor his actions in relation to the school in Haiti.
One defendant, Hope Carter, served as a school board member at Fairfield University. The lawsuit claims that she flew to Haiti in 2008 in order to confiscate Perlitz’s computer.
Past Campus Ministry Director Fr. Paul Carrier S.J. as well as the Society of Jesuits as a whole are also defendants for similar reasons. According to the Associated Press, Carrier saw Perlitz showing pornographic videos to boys within the program.
“As soon as the first whiff of scandal, meaning that the kids were being abused by Perlitz, Fairfield University officials … did everything they could to get as far away from the situation instead of turning the other way,” said Paul Kendrick ‘72 in an interview with the Mirror.
He continued: “Now all the people who ran for the hills, who tried to get away from this – everybody is going to be rounded up in a federal court room. In the end, fair and just compensation will be paid to these kids for their harms and injuries. “
Lawyers for Fairfield as well as those of the other defendants filed for dismissals of similar charges from last April. In regard to the recent proceedings, all defendants maintain both lack of connection with Perlitz once he was in Haiti and an ignorance towards his actions.
In a response to the Mirror, a University spokesperson said, “As our lawyers wrote in their Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, the plaintiffs are trying to impose liability improperly on the University for failing to supervise the actions of people acting in their individual capacities on behalf of their own interests.”
The plaintiffs will be led by Michael Garabedian, a Boston attorney. Garabedian is known for his role in successfully suing a number of Catholic priests for sexual abuse towards children.