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Haiti school founder gets prison for abuse

Dec. 21, 2010 at 11:23 PM

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The founder of a school in Haiti was sentenced Tuesday to 19 years, seven months in a U.S. prison for molesting boys on the island nation.

Five of Douglas Perlitz's victims, now men in their 20s, testified at a daylong hearing in federal court in New Haven, the Connecticut Post reported. Speaking in Creole, they described abuse that began when they were as young as 11 -- and his threats to kick them out of the Pierre Toussaint school in Cap-Haitien if they reported him.

About 30 Haitians watched the proceedings. They included Cyrus Sibert, a radio reporter in Haiti who first reported the victims' stories in 2007.

Perlitz, an alumnus of Fairfield University in Connecticut, had been considered a humanitarian. Fairfield gave him an honorary degree in 2002 for his work in Haiti.

He pleaded guilty in September under a U.S. law that makes sex tourism involving juveniles a crime.

Some Haitians said they were relieved by the long sentence.

"This is a credit to the American government and the American people," said Louis Elneus, a school employee in Haiti. "The judge was thorough, thoughtful -- and she's right. We're very happy that Doug is away and at least his victims will find some sort of satisfaction from this."

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