Saturday, September 19, 2009

Recent News

Recent news: The Connecticut Post ran this story on September 17th:
"In one life, Douglas Perlitz was an honored Fairfield University graduate and commencement speaker whose missionary work with Haitian street children raised millions of dollars and was commended as an "inspiration to people of all ages."
In his other life, a grand jury says Perlitz sexually abused at least nine of the Haitian boys he was supposed to be helping.
A Bridgeport federal grand jury returned a 10-count indictment Tuesday against Perlitz, 39, a Fairfield resident...." Read the rest here. A second story is here.

The University's statement is here.

I can't add any first-hand information to these, Doug Perlitz graduated the year before I came to Fairfield U., I have not been to his program in Haiti. When it is reasonable to do so, however,
I hope the University can be a bit more forthcoming about what has -- or hasn't -- happened. At the moment, the facts are contested, so reticence may be appropriate.

Nevertheless, our statements should clearly state what we do know to be true. We should acknowledge, for example, how important the ties between Campus Ministry (then under the direction of Paul Carrier, S.J.) and the project in Haiti were, and how proud the University was of this graduate who, we thought, had vibrantly lived the mission we preach to our students on a daily basis. Doug Perlitz was not merely "a 1992 graduate, currently living in Colorado" -- he was a celebrated son, given an honorary degree (surely one of the youngest to be so honored) in May of 2002, just months after the sex abuse crisis exploded in the Boston area and the first wave of financial scandals brought down Arthur Anderson and Enron. Here, we proclaimed, was a beacon of hope: Catholic education would matter, our graduates would be different.

I hope the charges prove to be false. But if they are true, we need to know -- truth, too, is part of our mission.