Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Fairfield Settles Lawsuit Brought by Sex Abuse Victims

Fairfield University is reporting that insurers for Fairfield and other parties settled a civil lawsuit, in which it was alleged that the University failed to protect the sexual abuse victims of Douglas Perlitz, a 1992 graduate of Fairfield.

The total settlement, according to the university, is $12 million. It’s been reported that each of the 24 victims will receive $500,000.

Perlitz headed Project Pierre Toussaint, a school for boys in Haiti, where the sexual abuse allegedly occurred. In 2002, Perlitz delivered Fairfield’s commencement address and was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws.

Although the school was not an official ministry of the Jesuits, Fairfield allegedly raised more than $600,000 for the school,according to the Huffington Post. A Fairfield chaplain, Father Paul Carrier, S.J., was a volunteer officer of the school according to the Fairfield Mirror and had also been named in the suit.

The settlement does not admit liability for the victims’ allegations, which included claims that Fr. Carrier “saw Perlitz show a student a pornographic video and saw boys in his bedroom,” according to the Post.

The Mirror reports that the sexual abuse was publicly exposed by another Fairfield alumnus:

Long-time advocate for child abuse victims Paul Kendrick ‘72 told The Mirror on Saturday that he felt “very emotional” upon hearing the news about the settlement.

Kendrick had met and visited Perlitz in Haiti. He, along with Haitian journalist Cyrus Sibert who broke the news about the sexual abuse in 2007, have been following the case since it first began. For the past four years, Kendrick has wanted to meet with [University president Father Jeffrey] von Arx to discuss ways to help the victims, but he said they only met once.

He said he was frustrated and believed that Fairfield University failed to display the Jesuits values from which it was founded. “As a Jesuit alumnus, I’m not only ashamed, I’m disgusted by the actions of von Arx and the Jesuits New England and the Fairfield University community over the last four years.”

In 2010, Perlitz was sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison for traveling overseas to have sex with a minor.

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