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Child Exploitation

Former Connecticut resident sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison for sexually abusing minors in Haiti

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Douglas Perlitz, 40, was sentenced to 235 months in federal prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for sexually abusing at least eight minor victims over the course of a decade in Haiti. On Aug. 18, Perlitz pleaded guilty to one count of traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. This lengthy prison sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The sentence was announced by David B. Fein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut and Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston. Foucart oversees ICE HSI throughout New England. Perlitz was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton.

"Today's sentencing of Douglas Perlitz demonstrates the resolve and commitment of ICE HSI to bring to justice American citizens who believe they can victimize children outside the United States," said Special Agent in Charge Foucart. "I would like to commend the hard-working men and women of ICE HSI, the Department of State, the Haitian National Police and prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Connecticut who worked tirelessly to bring a child predator to justice."

"We're pleased with lengthy prison term imposed today, as it will protect the public from a serial child predator for years to come," stated U.S. Attorney Fein. "This defendant's crimes were particularly heinous, as he not only victimized children, but did so by using his position of power to take advantage of vulnerable boys who likely would be out on the street if they didn't comply with his sexual demands. I want to commend the extraordinary strength and courage of the minor victims in this case who came forward and spoke out about the abuse that they suffered – several of whom were present in the court room today – so that it would stop and to protect others from harm. I also want to acknowledge the truly extraordinary efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. State Department, which have devoted significant resources to this investigation and many others that involve American citizens who travel abroad to sexually abuse minors. This result would not have occurred but for their unceasing commitment to the victims in this case and the cause of justice."

According to court documents and statements made in court, in approximately 1997, Perlitz obtained funding to found Project Pierre Toussaint ("PPT"), a school for boys in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. Initially, PPT began as an intake center referred to as the 13th Street Intake Program. PPT provided services to children of all ages, most of whom were street children. The services provided for the children included meals, sports activities, basic classroom instruction, and access to running water for baths. PPT continued to expand and, in approximately 1999, a residential facility, Village Pierre Toussaint (referred to as the "Village"), was added. The Village was staffed primarily by Haitians, but Perlitz was directly involved with the Village.

In approximately 1999, The Haiti Fund, Inc. was incorporated as a charitable, religious and educational organization in Connecticut, and operated as the fund-raising arm of PPT. The Haiti Fund raised large sums of money through fund-raising efforts in Connecticut. All of the expenses associated with PPT were paid for by monies raised on behalf of PPT by the Haiti Fund.

In pleading guilty, Perlitz admitted that, at various times between 2001 and 2008, he traveled from airports in the U.S. to Haiti to engage in illicit sexual conduct with minors and did, in fact, engage in sexual conduct with minor boys who attended school at PPT. Perlitz abused his position of authority to entice and persuade the minors to comply with the sex acts by providing the promise of food and shelter and other benefits, including cash, cell phones, electronics, shoes, clothes, and other items.

The government has alleged that, between 1998 and 2008, Perlitz victimized at least 18 minor boys. Six victims traveled from Haiti to offer testimony at today's sentencing.

Judge Arterton has scheduled a hearing for March 7, 2010, to determine the amount of restitution Perlitz will be ordered to pay.

Perlitz has been detained since his arrest in Colorado on Sept. 16, 2009.

This matter has been investigated by ICE HSI in New Haven, with the assistance of ICE HSI in Grand Junction, Colorado; ICE's Office of International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and the Caribbean Attaché, the U.S. Department of State, Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti; and private individuals in the United States and Haiti, whose assistance has been critical to the successful prosecution of this case.

U.S. Attorney Fein also acknowledged the critical assistance provided by the Haitian National Police Department's Brigade of Protection of Minors.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Krishna R. Patel, Stephen B. Reynolds and Richard J. Schechter. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York has provided support and assistance to the prosecution of this matter.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.