Ezili Danto

Ezili Danto
Birthday
August 01
Bio
Ezili Dantò is an award winning playwright, a performance poet, author and human rights attorney. She was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in the USA. She holds a BA from Boston College, a JD from the University of Connecticut School of law. She is a human rights lawyer, cultural and political activist and the founder and president of the Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN). She runs the Haitian Perspectives on-line journal and the Ezili Dantò Newsletter. Ezili’s HLLN is the recognized leading and most trustworthy international voice in Haiti advocacy, human rights work, Haiti news and Haiti news analysis. HLLN’s work is central to those concerned with the welfare of the people of Haiti, Haiti capacity building, sovereignty, institutionalization of the rule of law, and justice and peace without occupation or militarization. Ezili Dantò is also an educator who specializes in teaching about the light and beauty of Haitian culture; the Symbolic and Archetypal Nature of Haitian Vodun; the illegality and immorality of forcing neoliberal policies on Haiti and the developing world... Since the UN-imported cholera outbreak on October 2010, Ezili' HLLN has insisted that environmental clean-up, clean water and sanitation are the only permanent solution to stop the UN cholera spread. Zili Dlo is a humanitarian project that provides free clean water. For more go to the Ezili Danto/HLLN websites at http://www.ezilidanto.com/ and http://www.ezilidanto.com/zili

DECEMBER 22, 2010 5:59AM

Justice for Haiti prevailed:Perlitz going away for long time

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It was a good day for justice and decency: Douglas Perlitz sentenced to nearly 20 years for sex abuse in Haiti, followed by 10 years of supervised release

  • Members of the local Haitian community arrive at the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. to attend the sentencing hearing for Doug Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
  • Supporters of Douglas Perlitz stand in the lobby of the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. as they wait to attend the sentencing hearing for Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
  • Stamford lawyer Ezili Danto, of the Haitian Legal Leadership Network, leaves the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. during a break in the sentencing hearing for Douglas Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
  • Journalist Cyrus Sibert, of Cap Haitien, Haiti, answers questions from the media outside of the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. during a break in the sentencing hearing for Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
  • Journalist Cyrus Sibert, of Cap Haitien, Haiti, answers questions from the media outside of the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. during a break in the sentencing hearing for Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
  • Stamford lawyer Marguerite Laurent, President of the Haitian Legal Leadership Network, talks to the media about early Haitian leader Pierre Toussaint, whom Doug Perlitz named his school after, while outside the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. during a recess in the sentencing hearing for Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
  • U.S. Attorney Krishna Patel speaks to the media outside the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse after the sentencing of Douglas Perlitz in downtown New Haven, Conn. on Tuesday December 22, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham ( Perlitz sentenced to nearly 20 years for sex abuse in Haiti )
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  • Members of the local Haitian community arrive at the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. to attend the sentencing hearing for Doug Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post
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Ezili Dantò's note on the Perlitz sentencing:
YEAH!!!! Judge Arterton did it! Her sentencing and the ruling at sentencing lifted up the dignity and value of these abused Haiti children. Judge Arterton gave this much thought and thorough consideration. After almost seven hours of testimony, Judge Arterton said, "If one digs a well to supply water to those who have never had water, and then that person poisons the water, was building that well a good deed?"

Judge Arterton gave defendant Douglas Perlitz - the serial rapist and molester of defenseless, homeless Haiti boys - the maximum sentence possible: 19 years and 7 months, followed by 10 years of supervised release.

2010 has been the most horrendous year for Haitians.

There was an apocalyptic earthquake, which killed over 300,000 Haitians in 33 seconds; tarp cities of 1.5 million homeless earthquake victims still remain one year later, with little of the rubble removed. There's the more than 16,000 NGO/charity people collecting over $2 billion in donations, much of it unspent as the intended beneficiaries suffer and die. The rainy season brought hurricane Tomas and UN-imported cholera killing thousands upon thousands of vulnerable Haitians while the US/OAS and international community insisted on Haiti elections under these impossible circumstances that were essential not free, not inclusive and without an electorate.  To top it all off, the Obama administration resume deportations to Haiti. It's inhumane that this was the good news for 2010. But that's what one grateful Haitian man said to me following the court hearing.

This is a truly extraordinary ruling for the Haiti children - for the world's defenseless children living in countries where the wealthier, predatory U.S. sex-tourists' hunt, heretofore with almost complete impunity.

Judge Arterton also said she read every letter sent. I think the maximum sentence reflected this. USGA, Krishna Patel was slamming! I mean really good in nailing her case! Doug Perlitz's lawyer rambled on, called the children the "scourge of the earth," “below dirt,” and said Haiti was so dark, pessimistic and negative, it contributed to Perlitz's downward spiral into abuse. The man was unnecessarily offensive.

It was a privilege and honor to thank the US government team and Rod Khattabi. A true pleasure. They did a spectacular job. It was heartbreaking listening to the children testimony. Six came up from Haiti along with two of the teachers who first listened to them and tried to stop Perlitz. True, true heroes - Margarette Joseph and Robinson Gedeus!!! Along with everyone else who came from the Network, we had four lawyers there from HLLN- Bob Celestin, Henri Alexandre, Mayor Joseph Makhandal Champagne and I. Thanks guys! Now we've got to find some trauma counseling, authentic education, shelter and a non-dependent, self-reliant, skills-transfer way to help these children - now young men, move forward.

Thanks all who wrote to Judge Arterton. A good day for justice and decency today! But you all know how Haiti victories are always bittersweet. Triumph trickled in with tears. In the car going home I started thinking how we met the children tonight at a well-appointed hotel in New Haven to say chapo ba and toast their courage, let them know how we cared. Thanks much to the persons who made this encounter happen. The children were surrounded by wonderful US government folks there to protect them and help them navigate. There was heat, electricity, light, clean drinking water, furniture - comfort. I saw and smelled a buffet of good food when we met them. But tomorrow they’re going back. They'll be in Haiti. Some, perhaps back in the streets with no roof over their heads. It’s just so unfair, even surreal the disparity in living circumstances between the poor and this moment for them. What will it do to their minds? I think about it. But for this moment, right now, these vilely abused children know a group of people, far away and from every race, stood up for them, helped give them an international voice. Lifted the human dignity and honor pedophile Douglas Perltiz so abused, destroyed and denigrated. Sad all around, but it was a good day for justice and decency today! We're motivated: One down, one thousand more in Haiti to go! Everyone, THANK YOU!

As we made our presentation before the Court during the sentencing, HLLN symbolically took back the use of the Venerable Pierre Toussaint's legacy to give the Douglas Perlitz school in Haiti meaning. In open court, before Judge Arterton, we took the podium, to remind the world that Pierre Toussaint, the most venerated Black Catholic in the world was a Haitian who helped found the first orphanage in New York city for homeless boys, back when Black folks were still enslaved in the United States. Pierre Toussaint was a philanthropist who EARNED, through his own labor, the money he did his charitable works with. He was piety incarnate. He was humble, loving, patient, kind, generous, self-sacrificing. He lived the Gospel of Christ. Douglas Perliz named the school he used to abuse Haiti's homeless boys "Project Pierre Toussaint." Douglas Perlitz could have learned about charity and giving without-strings from Pierre Toussaint. We went before the judge to say this, take back the Venerable Pierre Toussaint’s name, lift up his shining legacy and ask the judge to impose the maximum sentence to validate the children's dignity, assuage their soul-destroying wounds and send a deterrence message to other such predators in Haiti right now doing the same horrid deeds. During our address before the Court, in support of the Haiti abused children and on behalf of the Ezili Network and the Haiti and world community HLLN represents, we made the point that if the world is in need of what a "face of Christ" (as one supporter of Perlitz described him to be) really looks like, then Pierre Toussaint already showed us – and we lifted up a 10 X 17 picture of the Venerable Pierre Toussaint, to illustrate. Douglas Perlitz and his ilk “doing good,” using their false benevolence and Haiti's misery to rake-in the dollars in Haiti, right now, are nowhere near equal to the Catholic philanthropist and humanitarian, the Venerable Pierre Toussaint of Haiti

  • Members of the local Haitian community arrive at the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. to attend the sentencing hearing for Doug Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo

  • Supporters of Douglas Perlitz stand in the lobby of the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. as they wait to attend the sentencing hearing for Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo

  • Stamford lawyer Ezili Danto, of the Haitian Legal Leadership Network, leaves the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. during a break in the sentencing hearing for Douglas Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo

  • Journalist Cyrus Sibert, of Cap Haitien, Haiti, answers questions from the media outside of the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. during a break in the sentencing hearing for Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo

  • Journalist Cyrus Sibert, of Cap Haitien, Haiti, answers questions from the media outside of the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. during a break in the sentencing hearing for Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo

  • Human rights attorney, Ezili Dantò, President of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, talks to the media about Catholic philanthropist, Haitian charitable works icon, the Venerable Pierre Toussaint, whom Doug Perlitz named his school after, while outside the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. during a recess in the sentencing hearing for Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post


Ezili Dantò of HLLN
www.ezilidanto.com
December 22, 2010

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Forwarded by Ezili's Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
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Sentencing for Haiti sex abuser

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Perlitz gets maximum sentence, 235 months

By Elizabeth Connors December 22, 2010, Fairfield Minuteman News Center


Douglas Perlitz

Surrounded by his victims, former supporters, and representatives from Haiti, Douglas Perlitz was sentenced on Tuesday to 19 years and seven months in prison for his sexual abuse of boys in Haiti, the maximum possible sentence in this case. U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton also gave Perlitz supervised probation for 10 years after his release from prison, and various conditions that include participation in various alcohol, substance abuse and sex offense programs. Restitution will also be decided at a later date.

Perlitz, 40, a Fairfield University alumnus from the class of 1992, was the founder of Project Pierre Toussaint (PPT), a charity that provided food, clothing, shelter and schooling to homeless boys in Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, and of which many Fairfield County residents donated money and support to. Many local residents sat on the board of the project and organized fund raisers, even traveling to Haiti to see the progress Perlitz had made. After much investigation into allegations that he had been molesting the young students in exchange for money, Perlitz pleaded guilty earlier this year to a single charge of traveling to Haiti repeatedly between 2001 and 2008 and engaging in illicit sexual conduct. He has been in prison in Rhode Island since he was arrested in September 2009.

On Tuesday Perlitz, wearing a blue sweater, sat quietly in a room of about 130 people, listening to testimonies from the boys he raped, arguments between his lawyers and the prosecution, and other testimonies that conclude Perlitz sexually molested upwards of 25-30 boys, many of whom are still too ashamed to come forward.

U.S. Attorney Krishna Patel said that the boys were not just under Perlitz’s care, but were also swayed by the clothes, food and money he gave them in exchange for sexual favors, especially valuable to a homeless child in Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries.

But perhaps the most telling were the victims’ own testimonies. Six boys, now in their early twenties, each came forward in front of their abuser and told their stories through a translator, moving one man in the gallery to tears. The boys were identified only by their initials, and spoke in detail of how Mr. Perlitz would force them to perform and receive sexual acts in exchange for money and gifts, warning each of them not to tell anyone, or they would be thrown out onto the streets. Many of the boys were just 11 years old when it began.

All boys were taken and coaxed into sleeping in Perlitz’s bed, and many said they woke up to him molesting them in their sleep. Two boys said Perlitz brought them to a hotel or bar where he bought him alcohol before bringing him back to his house, and another said that when he resisted, Perlitz showed him on his computer just how much money he was spending on the students of PPT. All of them said they told him “no” or said they felt uncomfortable. They didn’t talk about it with each other and were ashamed, embarrassed, or even scared of Perlitz’s power to throw them on the streets.

One boy with the initials L.M. said Perlitz told him that if he told anyone it he would close down the village, leaving the students without a home. “It’s not easy to live in Haiti,” said L.M. through a translator, who briefly left Haiti after being threatened by officers who were worried money for the village would be cut off.

“Douglas always tried to control the kids,” said Margaret Joseph, a former social worker at PPT who convinced the boys to come forward.

Ezili Dantò, president of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network called for the maximum sentence to be given, saying that this case will send a message and that the ruling could become an “international deterrent.”

“He stole their innocence, stole their childhood, and shredded their soul,” said Dantò.
Meanwhile, Perlitz faced forward with a blank look on his face, but was constantly shifting his body and his gaze.

When concluding their argument, Perlitz’s defense cited 125 other PPT employees and students who were not molested, a document put out last week alleging that Perlitz himself was sexually abused in college by an unnamed Fairfield University priest who acted as a mentor, and Perlitz’s history of community service in his younger years.

“The worst you can say about him is that for 12 years he took people who were, as your Honor said, lower than dirt, and lifted them up,” said Perlitz’s lawyer, William Dow III, a statement that brought gasps and whispers throughout the courtroom.

Patel of the prosecution countered, “They are not children who are below dirt,” and commended them on their strength in coming forward and the great risks involved. She pointed to forensic evidence that showed at least 16 boys were molested, over three times the number needed for an extra enhancement to apply. A psych report she said, notes that Perlitz is a narcissist.

“This is not a man who gets any more credit for good deeds,” Patel said, later adding, “He is clearly a danger to the world’s children.” Her impassioned speech garnered a some applause from the room.

Finally, it was Perlitz’s turn to speak. With a slow and shaky voice he admitted to engaging in immoral and sexual conduct of students in his care, accepting whatever punishment was to be given to him. He apologized to donors, family and friends, but mostly to the students.

“Even though deceit was part of my life for a long time, what I say now is the truth,” he said.

Then, with a translator addressing the court in English, Perlitz turned towards the students and read an apology in their native Creole. He asked for forgiveness from Haiti and its people. He told his victims that it torments him every day because although he thought about leaving Haiti he never did. “I wasn’t thinking about you,” he said.

But his speech was not enough to convince some, as a black man with an accent cut him off shouting, “How many did you rape?”

Perlitz wavered, then continued, asking once more for forgiveness from everyone, including the former supporters and the hundreds of Connecticut residents who donated their money and efforts. Turning to the judge he said, “I ask to be sentenced for the darkness of my sins, but your Honor, I hope you can see the light too.”
After a recess, Judge Arterton came back with her decision to sentence Perlitz to the maximum, nearly 20 years in prison, with additional conditions. She believes he is in danger of repeating his offenses, calling Perlitz someone who abused his position in the “worst kind of way.”

Said Judge Arterton, “If one digs a well to supply water to those who have never had water, and then that person poisons the water, was building that well a good deed?”

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Perlitz sentenced to nearly 20 years for sex abuse in Haiti


  • Members of the local Haitian community arrive at the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. to attend the sentencing hearing for Doug Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
  • Supporters of Douglas Perlitz stand in the lobby of the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. as they wait to attend the sentencing hearing for Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
  • Human rights lawyer, Ezili Dantò, of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, leaves the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse in downtown New Haven, Conn. during a break in the sentencing hearing for Douglas Perlitz on Tuesday December 21, 2010. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post

NEW HAVEN -- It's a story filled with chapters on hope, dark desires, courage and persistence.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton wrote another one -- on justice -- sentencing Douglas Perlitz, the humanitarian turned sex predator, to 19 years and seven months in federal prison for his systematic and prolonged abuse of at least 16 homeless boys in a program he created to shelter, feed and educate them in Haiti.

"Our country places a high value on defending citizens' individual dignity and protecting every child," Arterton told Perlitz, 40, Fairfield University's 2002 commencement speaker. "This was a horrific crime ... In a country that's very hard to live in; he took away the childhood they were never able to have... ."

But Arterton didn't stop there. She looked directly at Perlitz and told him: "Survivors of sexual abuse have unique, long-lasting permanent injuries -- for these boys that's on top of being poor, hungry and homeless in Haiti. Now they have fingers pointed at them in derision."

Arterton set a March 7 hearing on the restitution that Perlitz must provide to help his victims.

She feared he might again "injure and abuse" children so she placed him on 10 years of U.S. Probation Department supervision following his release from prison and banned him from associating with children under 18. She ordered him to enter a sexual abuse counseling program during his confinement, which she recommended take place in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons' medical facility in Devens, Mass.

"This is a vindication of those victimized by this atrocity as well as those who are not yet known," said Joseph M. Champagne, the mayor of South Toms River, N.J., and a member of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, several of whom attended the sentencing. "Now everyone knows that if you rape and sodomize someone in some other country you will be brought to the bar of justice."

Before pronouncing Perlitz's sentence, Arterton listened for nearly seven hours to the story of Project Pierre Toussaint.

It was a program of hope for Haitian street boys. It started in a parking lot in Cap-Haitien, the country's second-largest city, whose streets are filled with at least 10,000 abandoned children begging daily for food, clothing and medicine and money and sleeping in courtyards, on roofs, in woods. It grew into an intake center, an enclosed residential school on 10 acres of land and group homes for promising high school students. It was funded with millions of dollars raised by wealthy Fairfield and Westchester county Catholics.

The program began crumbling in 2007 when students went public with accounts of being abused by Perlitz. When funding dried up, the program shut down during the summer of 2009.

On Tuesday, six former students, all victims of Perlitz's abuse wrote the chapter on courage by describing their years of sexual abuse to the judge. The boys, speaking in their native Creole, which was translated to the judge, related how they would be invited to Perlitz's home, sometimes on their birthday or just before a holiday, sometimes after school on Friday afternoons and sometime when they became disruptive in school.

There the nightmarish acts would occur. Some would awaken to his abusing him, others would be asked to perform sex with him, and some would consent to demands for fondling and for being fondled. To resist could mean expulsion from the program, they said.

Just how many were abused is unknown. The prosecution said they could document 16 but believe there were more.

One boy told how he and others would hear Perlitz's footsteps in their dormitory room and feign sleeping or look for a hiding place "so he wouldn't sleep with us."

"He never made love to us, he made hate," he said.

That boy's descriptive story of being sexually abused over five years struck an emotional chord with Cyrus Sibert, the Haitian journalist, the first to report on the scandal in 2007.

Emotion overcame Sibert, who spent the last three years counseling and helping the victims. He briefly left the courtroom in the company of Paul Kendrick, an advocate for sexual abuse victims and the Rev. Bob Hoatson, a Catholic priest who operates the Road to Recovery Inc., a New Jersey program that offers help to victims of clergy sexual abuse.

There's the chapter on persistence written by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Krishna Patel, Stephen Reynolds and Richard Schechter. When the original indictment was dismissed in Connecticut after Arterton decided there was no evidence a crime was committed here, prosecutors formulated a plan to charge Perlitz in New York, California, Colorado and Florida -- every state where Perlitz had flown to Haiti with the intention of engaging in sex with one of students shortly thereafter.

They filed the first in Brooklyn federal court, which required Perlitz to be moved to the federal detention center there, which has a number of Haitians in its population. Perlitz never went there. Instead he and his lawyers, David Grudberg and William F. Dow III quickly negotiated a guilty plea to one charge of traveling from New York to Haiti to have sex with an underage boy.

Patel rebutted one letter from a Perlitz supporter claiming his program took children "lower than dirt and the scourges of society and lifted them up."

"These are not children below dirt," she said. "These are children who showed extraordinary courage ... He preyed on clients he was supposed to protect and nurture ... All Perlitz did was harm that country and harm their children."

Perlitz, 40, dressed in a dark blue sweater covering a white shirt and tie over gray pants, spent nearly 20 minutes apologizing. He admitted living a double life until his guilty plea in August.

Then he turned to the rows of the six boys and spoke to them in Creole asking them and "all of Haiti to forgive me."

"At the time I had contact with you I wasn't thinking about you or your feeling about how my actions would affect you. No, I was too stingy."

He said he is tormented every day, thinking of how things would be different if he left Haiti. He said he feared that "Project Pierre Toussaint would fall apart ... Now I am going to prison because of what I did ... I can say I deserve this."

After the sentencing hope rose again.

Al Lackey, president of Kids Alive International, an Indiana charity which operates in Cap-Haitien said his organization is close to finalizing a deal with Fairfield University and the Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic charity to provide help for all of the 82 residential students.

"We've got commitments to get these six victims and 34 others into two trade schools next month," said Lackey, who attended the hearing. "Some will need counseling, others just friends and mentors. What I can assure you is we will be part of these kids for the rest of their lives."

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Comments

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Jack,
Thanks for sending all those letters to the judge!!! We did good.
Powerful story. Good for you and all who worked towards justice! My heart goes out to the victims. Rated and shared on FB.
Hallelujah! One bright spot in Haiti's misery.....I can only hope that in the coming collapse of the world economy, those who truly seek justice for all will have a fresh start in building a new, better world, and that Haiti will be able to become the nation it should be, a nation of opportunity for its people! I pray for it daily!!