Jesuits suspend ex-Fairfield U. minister as scandal is probed
Published 11:07 am, Friday, December 17, 2010
A Jesuit order has suspended the Rev. Paul Carrier from performing any religious duties while it investigates his relationships with students while serving at Fairfield University.
But the Society of Jesus New England Province, Carrier's order, is not the only group investigating his actions at Fairfield University.
Stanley A. Twardy Jr., Connecticut's former U.S. attorney and now a partner in Day Pitney, a Stamford law firm, said he and his firm have been hired by Fairfield University to look into Carrier's actions at the school.
Carrier served two stints encompassing 20 years at Fairfield, first as an instructor and then as chaplain and director of campus ministry. He was transferred from the school in 2008 at about the same time federal investigators began digging into allegations of sexual abuse at a Haitian school operated by Douglas Perlitz, Carrier's prize student.
Perlitz, who federal prosecutors want sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison, pleaded guilty to abusing one underage boy and admitted sexually abusing seven others during his decade of operating Project Pierre Toussaint, a program to feed, clothe and educate homeless boys in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city. His sentencing is Dec. 21.
The defense asserts in the documents that Perlitz's actions in Haiti were linked to "a dark and abusive relationship" both "physical and spiritual" involving a Fairfield University priest that began just days after the student's 1988 arrival on campus.
While the document does not identify the priest by name, it claims the relationship continued "for many years, including during all of his (Perlitz) work in Haiti."
It was Carrier who helped establish and raise money for Perlitz's program. It was also Carrier who introduced Perlitz to Haiti, taking him and several other Fairfield students there on a missionary trip.
Several former Project Pierre Toussaint students and employees told the Connecticut Post last December in Haiti that Carrier visited the program nearly every month and telephoned Perlitz nearly every day.
None of them implicated Carrier in any improper actions there. Carrier, who lives in Stamford, has not been charged with any crime.
Still, the Society of Jesus said the information contained in Perlitz's court submission "is of serious concern."
"Father Carrier has been restricted from any ministry pending the Society's investigation into this matter. The decision to restrict Father Carrier's ministry is not based on any determination that Father Carrier in fact engaged in the alleged misconduct. As we work to address this matter, we will continue to keep all persons impacted by these tragic circumstances in our prayers," their statement reads.
Alice Poltorick, a Society spokesperson, said the restriction prohibits Carrier from conducting any religious-related activity.
Sources said Carrier, who has been described as a `dynamic homilist,' had been celebrating Masses in private homes for wealthy Catholics in Fairfield County. At one point he taught at Convent of the Sacred Heart school in Greenwich, as a member of the theology department, and helped celebrate Mass in St. Thomas More Church in Darien.
Carrier's lawyer, Timothy O'Neill, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
However, O'Neill told Fox News.com that Perlitz's allegations deserve "the same credibility as the person making that statement, which is absolutely none."
Paul Kendrick, an advocate for the sexually abused Haitian boys and a Fairfield University graduate, called upon Myles Sheehan, the head of the Society of Jesus, to investigate allegations that other male students at Fairfield University may have been subjected to inappropriate relationships.
"This internal investigation of Father Carrier is long overdue," Kendrick said Thursday.
Kendrick recounted a conversation he had with Robinson Gedeus, a former supervisor at Project Pierre Toussaint in Haiti last January.
"Robinson told me that after he confronted Perlitz about allegations of the sexual abuse of students, Father Paul refused to talk to him for two years ... In my mind, Father Paul Carrier knew Robinson confronted Douglas about abusing children ... and he was complicit in Douglas' sexual abuse of children."
Twardy, who served nearly two terms as Connecticut's chief federal prosecutor, is no stranger to Fairfield University.
In 2009, he supervised the school's internal audit of contributions raised there from 1997 to 2007 for Project Pierre Toussaint. In February, Twardy and Fairfield President Jeffrey von Arx announced they could not determine how Carrier spent $120,500 of that money.
Carrier was neither charged nor sued as a result of that audit.