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This story originally appeared in the Sunday, January 31 print edition of the Connecticut Post. Click here to subscribe. The man who had seemingly worked tirelessly to help desperate orphans through a charity in Haiti had been charged with sexually preying on those same boys. This is not the case against Douglas Perlitz. Rather, it is a description of charges filed by Canadian law enforcement officials last October against John Duarte , a former Roman Catholic priest who worked as a missionary for Hearts Together for Haiti.
He is accused of plying teenage boys in Port-au-Prince with gifts in exchange for sex. And there's more. In December, Armand Huard , once praised in Canada as a "Father Teresa," and Denis Rochefort were sentenced by a Canadian judge to three and two years in prison, respectively. The pair admitted sexually abusing young Haitian boys while volunteering at an orphanage in Les Cayes, just outside Port-au-Prince. In , Sri Lanka soldiers assigned to the U. Haiti has been the backdrop for five recent sex-crime cases involving foreigners who engaged in charitable or religious work.
Haiti and other Third World countries with only embryonic social services and an overwhelming need for charitable missions have proven to be a fertile ground for abuse. The United States now is attempting to apply to cases such as Perlitz's a fairly recent law aimed at "sex tourism. Bush in , designed to crack down on those who travel abroad, typically to Third World countries, to engage in sex with minors. Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary for immigration and custom enforcement, following Perlitz's arrest.
Perlitz's lawyers have challenged the indictment. David Grudberg and William F. Dow III said the indictment falls short of meeting a key requirement of the sex-tourism statute -- specifying the date their client traveled to Haiti and allegedly engaged in illegal sexual conduct. They point out that Perlitz, while a U. As of September , the Justice Department had arrested 67 people under the travel law, which carries a maximum federal prison term of 30 years.
The foreign travel law is just a subsection of a larger federal statute that encompasses all travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Perlitz is not the first Connecticut case being prosecuted under the travel law by Assistant U.