BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — Fairfield University and others that supported a charity designed to help feed and educate boys in Haiti have reached a $12 million settlement with children who were sexually abused by a founder of the group.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who led the plaintiffs' legal team, said Monday that the families of the 24 boys who sued will share the money.
Douglas Perlitz was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison in 2011 for the assaults after acknowledging he engaged in illicit sexual conduct with boys who attended the Project Pierre Toussaint School in Cap-Haitien.
Defendants in the lawsuit also included a former chaplain at the school and several charities that supported its work. Stanley Twardy Jr., an attorney for Fairfield University, said none of the defendants acknowledged any liability.
A joint motion for voluntary dismissal in all the cases has been filed with U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny in Hartford.
"It is our hope that this money will help those who were harmed by Douglas Perlitz," Alice Poltorick, provincial assistant for communications for the New England Province of the Society of Jesus, told the Connecticut Post.
Perlitz founded the Haiti school in 1997 when he lived in Fairfield County, Conn. Authorities said he began abusing the children, some as young as 11, in 1998 before the school was built.
Prosecutors said Perlitz abused at least 16 children, then gave them money, food, clothing and electronics and threatened to take everything away and expel them from the program if they told anyone.
The abuse scandal led to the collapse of the school and its fundraising arm, the Haiti Fund, forcing the children back onto the streets, prosecutors have said.
Information from: Connecticut Post, http://www.connpost.com