Fairfield University and four other religious and charitable organizations have reached a $60 million settlement regarding alleged sexual abuse from a graduate.
In a statement released on Friday, the university announced that it has “agreed to a second and concluding legal settlement with a group of individuals who came forward with allegations that they were sexually abused in Haiti in the late 1990s and early 2000s by Douglas Perlitz, a Fairfield University alumnus.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Haitian minors by Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston-based lawyer, who has made a name for himself representing hundreds of clergy sexual assault victims.
According to Fairfield University, the announcement relates to Project Pierre Toussaint, a charity that was established in 1997 by Perlitz, designed to support underprivileged boys in Haiti. The multi-phase program fed, clothed, provided shelter and educated the young boys. In 2008, Perlitz was found to have been “grossly abusing his position, sexually assaulting some of the young men in his car.”
Although some members of the Fairfield University donated time and resources to the project, school officials noted that the university “played no role in the management or governance of Project Pierre Toussaint.”
In a press release, attorneys announced a settlement had been reached and was pending court approval.
“The Law Offices of Mitchell Garabedian and Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC announced that a class action settlement, subject to court approval, has been reached for the minor victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by Douglas Perlitz, Father Paul E. Carrier, S.J., or anyone else affiliated with the school and programs commonly known as ‘Project Pierre Toussaint’ or ‘PPT’ of Haiti,” the release stated.
In 2013, the five defendants entered a settlement with two dozen victims who came forward with claims against Perlitz.
“The University took that step out of a sincere desire to avoid putting the victims through the potentially painful experience of a trial and to do what we could to support the needs of these young men, their families and their communities,” officials said in a statement. “In the years following that first settlement, additional individuals came forward with allegations of abuse by Perlitz. In the same spirit, the University and the four defendants engaged in mediation with this new group and we have reached a settlement fund totaling $60 million, which will provide compensation to all persons abused by Perlitz.
“Everyone in our community has been saddened by these events. Our prayers are with all those whose trust has been betrayed and we hope that these proceedings and the settlement reached will give some measure of relief to the victims.”
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