Eagle man sentenced in Haiti sex abuse case
Vail, CO Colorado
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A Colorado man was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison Tuesday for sexually abusing children for more than a decade at a school he founded in Haiti, including some who faced him in the courtroom and testified that he threatened to put them back on the streets if they did not submit to his advances.
Judge Janet Bond Arterton called Douglas Perlitz a serial rapist and molester as she imposed the sentence in New Haven federal court. She said she believed he would commit the same crimes again if he were in a similar position.
Perlitz, 40, apologized to his victims while speaking in Creole before the sentence was handed down. He said he knew his crimes were horrible but pleaded for leniency nevertheless, asking the judge to consider the good work he did in the impoverished Caribbean nation.
“I began losing my head. … I was using you,” Perlitz said while facing the six young men who testified earlier. “I mistreated you because you were afraid. Perhaps you were confused. Perhaps you thought, ‘How could this man, Douglas, who’s protecting me, be touching me like this?’
“I wasn’t thinking about you or your feelings or how my actions would affect you,” he added. “I’m asking for forgiveness.”
More than 100 people filled the courtroom including the victims, two Haitian police officers and Perlitz’s family and supporters.
Perlitz admitted in August that he engaged in illicit sexual conduct with eight children who attended the Project Pierre Toussaint School for homeless children in Cap-Haitien. Prosecutors said Perlitz gave the children money, food, clothing and electronics and threatened to take everything away and expel them from the program if they told anyone.
Arterton said she believed there were at least 16 victims, based on testimony that authorities recorded on video by others who attended the school. Some of the six young Haitian men said in court that dozens of other boys were abused by Perlitz.
Now a resident of Eagle, Perlitz founded the 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. The abuse scandal led to the collapse of the school and its fundraising arm, the Haiti Fund, forcing the children back into homelessness on the streets, prosecutors said.
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