PORTLAND, Maine – An activist who falsely accused a Haiti orphanage founder of molesting boys and was ordered to pay $14.5 million in damages has lost his bid for a new trial.
A federal judge upheld the jury’s defamation verdict and ordered activist Paul Kendrick to pay damages with interest on Friday, when police in Haiti were searching for orphanage founder Michael Geilenfeld as officials looked into new sexual-abuse allegations against him.
Kendrick had accused Geilenfeld, founder of St. Joseph Home for Boys, of being a serial pedophile in a campaign that featured an email blitz.
Geilenfeld denied the allegations and sued Kendrick in Maine. A jury awarded damages to Geilenfeld and a North Carolina-based charity, Hearts of Haiti, in July.
Geilenfeld told jurors that he’s been subjected to accusations in Haiti because he was a gay man in a homophobic country. But Kendrick said Monday the jury was “deceived and manipulated” and he anticipates further appeals.
Geilenfeld returned to Haiti after the verdict, but his whereabouts are unknown.
Geilenfeld is the subject of a Haitian criminal case in which he’s accused of sexually abusing boys in his care. A Haitian judge dismissed those charges in a brief trial, but the justice minister granted a re-examination of the case.
Now there are new allegations.
A U.S. real estate agent who accompanied police on Friday said the arrest warrant was issued after a magistrate judge visited the St. Joseph Home for Boys and found three youngsters living there with Geilenfeld in violation of an order by Haiti’s child welfare authority.