A prosecutor said Friday that a Haitian orphanage’s American founder forced four boys to engage in sexual acts more than a decade ago.
Michael Geilenfeld, 71, is a “dangerous, manipulative and cunning child sexual predator” who for decades has preyed on poor children while working abroad as a missionary, Jessica Urban, a prosecutor with the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, said during a detention hearing in Denver federal court.
Her statements marked the first time authorities have disclosed details of the investigation that led to Geilenfeld’s Jan. 18 indictment in Florida on charges of child sexual abuse. Urban, speaking via a video feed, offered the evidence to support her argument that Geilenfeld should not be released on bond as his case proceeds. She said authorities fear he or his supporters will try to intimidate victims to prevent them from testifying against him.
The abuse took place between November 2006 and December 2010, according to the indictment, a time period when Geilenfeld was operating the St. Joseph’s Home for Boys orphanage. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
According to the Florida indictment, Geilenfeld traveled to Haiti to engage in illicit sexual conduct with another person under the age of 18.
Authorities in Haiti have long investigated sex abuse allegations against Geilenfeld and arrested him in September 2014 based on allegations made against him by a child advocate in Maine, Paul Kendrick. Kendrick accused Geilenfeld of being a serial pedophile after speaking to young men who claimed they were abused by Geilenfeld when they were boys in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital where he founded the orphanage in 1985.
Geilenfeld called the claims “vicious, vile lies,” and his case was dismissed in 2015 after he spent 237 days in prison in Haiti. At some point, Geilenfeld and a charity associated with the orphanage, Hearts for Haiti, sued Kendrick in federal court in Maine. The suit blamed Kendrick for Geilenfeld’s imprisonment, damage to his reputation and the loss of millions of dollars in donations.
Hearts with Haiti received $3 million from Kendrick’s insurance companies in 2019, but Geilenfeld did not receive a payment.
Liberal Americans and Haitian orphanages don’t seem to have a great track record.
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