Fairfield University, others facing another sex abuse suit

New Haven (AP) - Fairfield University and others that supported a charity designed to help feed and educate boys in Haiti are facing another lawsuit by a man alleging he was sexually abused by a school founder.

The federal lawsuit, filed Thursday in Connecticut, seeks $20 million in damages. The man was about 15 at the time of the abuse, according to the suit.

The university and others reached a $12 million settlement last month with children sexually abused by Douglas Perlitz, who was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for sexually abusing boys who attended Project Pierre Toussaint School in Cap-Haitien.

The victims' attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, said he's investigating 31 other claims of sexual abuse by Perlitz and may file additional lawsuits.

The new lawsuit alleges the defendants, who also include a former chaplain at the university, the Society of Jesus of New England and several charities that supported its work, ignored warning signs and failed to prevent or stop abuse.

Boys who were abused by Perlitz told school staff about what he was doing, according to the lawsuit. A Jesuit priest who was chaplain and director of campus ministry at Fairfield University and hired Perlitz saw boys in Perlitz's bedroom, the suit says.

A Jesuit spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

Stanley Twardy Jr., an attorney for Fairfield University, said the lawsuit will be vigorously contested. Twardy has said none of the defendants acknowledged any liability in the settlement.

"It is our hope that this money will help those who were harmed by Douglas Perlitz," Alice Poltorick, provincial assistant for communications for the New England Province of the Society of Jesus, said last month.

David Grudberg, Perlitz's criminal defense attorney, declined to comment.

Perlitz founded the Haiti school in 1997 when he lived in Fairfield County, Conn.

Prosecutors said Perlitz abused at least 16 children, then gave them money, food, clothing and electronics and threatened to take everything away and expel them from the program if they told anyone.

The abuse scandal led to the collapse of the school and its fundraising arm, the Haiti Fund, forcing the children back onto the streets, prosecutors have said.

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