Former Fairfielder to be sentenced today in Haitian sex scandal
Former Fairfield resident and honored Fairfield University graduate Douglas Perlitz -- who in August admitted to sexually abusing children while running a school he founded in Haiti -- will be in federal court today to learn his fate.
Sentencing for Perlitz, 40, will begin at 10 a.m. in the Richard C. Lee Federal Courthouse in New Haven across from the city's green.
Perlitz, who most recently live in Eagle, Col., has been in prison in Rhode Island since he was arrested on sex tourism charges in September 2009. He pled guilty to one count of traveling with intent to engage in illict sexual conduct.
Prosecutors want Perlitz sent to prison for more than 19 years, saying he preyed on some of the world's most vulnerable children for years.
Perlitz's lawyers urged the court to impose a sentence of 8 to 10 years, saying despite the crimes he also helped street children in Haiti. They also cite a "dark and abusive" relationship he had with a priest when he was in college.
This week a Jesuit order suspended Rev. Paul Carrier, a former Fairfiel University teacher, chaplain and director of campus ministry. Carrier -- a mentor to Perlitz both at Fairfield University and after college who helped him raise funds for the Haitian school -- cannot perform any religious duties while an investigation is conducted by the Society of Jesus New England Province into Carrier's relationship with Perlitz.
Also last week, the defense had to respond to allegations that Perlitz and his younger brother threatened to harm a federal prosecutor during recorded conversations. Prosecutors argued that the threats should be grounds for Perlitz to serve a longer sentence. The defense, meanwhile, contended that the threats were simply made in anger without any plan to follow through on them.
Perlitz -- who graduated from Fairfield in 1992 -- was honored in 2002 with a doctorate and named commencement speaker at the university for his work in Haiti. He has since pleaded guilty to sexually abusing one of his male students and admitted to abusing at least seven others. The school, Project Pierre Toussaint, was set up by Perlitz to educate, feed and clothe homeless street boys in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second largest city.
Some of the victims are expected to testify at today's hearing.