Federal authorities have charged Doug Perlitz, a man with strong ties to Fairfield University, with sexually abusing several boys at the Haitian school he founded for disadvantaged youths – and they allege he enticed the boys with cash collected by a local religious leader.
Unwitting donors were giving money to “The Haiti Fund,” a charity legally operating in Connecticut that was designed to send money to the school, called Project Pierre Toussaint, the indictment read.
Perlitz was a face of the organization, appearing in many favorable stories of its work through the years.
Wednesday morning, Perlitz was arrested in his Eagle, Co., home and charged with seven counts of traveling outside the country to have sex with a minor, and three counts of “engaging in sexual conduct in foreign places with persons under the age of 18”. Each count carries a punishment of up to 30 years in prison.
Over the past decade, authorities say Doug Perlitz had control of more than $2 million that flowed to the fund and allegedly used some of the money to manipulate the minors into having sex with him or keeping quiet about the sex.
In Haiti, he lived on the lower floor of a two-story house. While American volunteers lived upstairs, authorities say he was downstairs, inviting children to his bed.
The government alleges that he also tried to conceal the illegal activity by convincing the Haiti Fund board to send out letters denying the allegations that first surfaced in 2007.
Perlitz, a 1992 graduate of Fairfield University, was honored there a decade later with an honorary degree for his social work in Haiti. Thursday, school spokeswoman Rama Sudhakar made clear the Jesuit school had “no role or involvement in the management or oversight” of the charity. At the same time, some employees of the university may have “independently supported” the Haiti Fund.
The Assistant Secretary for ICE, John Morton, said in a statement: “Sex tourism victims are particularly vulnerable to predators who lure them with promises of the most basic of human needs then rob them of their innocence.”
The Haitian Times reported this summer that Perlitz was fired in August 2008, causing funding for the school to dry up. Our attempts to reach Perlitz and the organization were unsuccessful.