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A small Massachusetts group that advocates for victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy has stepped forward to collect money for several Haitian youths expected to testify against Douglas Perlitz , the former Bridgeport resident accused of assaulting them.
The youths were all students at Project Pierre Toussaint, which Perlitz helped create in their country. It offered a three-part program to educate, feed and clothe abandoned boys living in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city. The program closed last summer after a federal investigation that led to Perlitz's arrest on 24 international sex charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
The scandal created a breach among Perlitz's supporters and accusers in the Haiti Fund , the fundraising arm of the project and a demise in donations. The January earthquake, which ravaged Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, and its surrounding cities, did not touch Cap-Haitien. However, that city experienced an influx of new residents fleeing from their earthquake damaged cities.
They have no food. They stay close to the public market with the hope that someone will give them food or clothing they can't sell. Sometimes you see them outside a closed restaurant looking for something to eat. Sibert said some of the kids are contemplating going to the Dominican Republic or even earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince, where they could take advantage of the humanitarian aid available for earthquake victims. Meanwhile, Fairfield University , from which Perlitz graduated and where donations for his Project Pierre Toussaint were collected for a decade during Sunday Masses, has pledged an unspecified amount to the Haiti Fund to help reopen the program.
Sources have said the Order of Malta, which provided the startup money to create Perlitz's program in , also pledged financial assistance to the Haiti Fund. Attempts to contact Michael P. McCooey , chairman of the Haiti Fund, and Timothy Joyce , a Westchester lawyer who has been involved in the fund, were unsuccessful Thursday and Friday.