Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Warrant Issued For Accused Child Abuser Perlitz

New Warrant Issued For Accused Child Abuser Perlitz

4:58 p.m. EDT, July 16, 2010

NEW HAVEN — — Federal prosecutors said Friday they have obtained a new arrest warrant, this time in New York, for the founder of an internationally known youth charity in Haiti who is accused of traveling to the island and using his position of authority to sexually abuse impoverished and homeless boys.

The action came two days after an order by U.S. District Judge Janet B. Arterton dismissing all charges against Douglas Perlitz. Arterton said in her decision that authorities were unconstitutionally prosecuting Perlitz in Connecticut for alleged criminal conduct that occurred elsewhere.

Arterton told prosecutors they were free to recharge Perlitz in another jurisdiction and agreed to temporarily postpone the effective date of the dismissal after prosecutors argued it would result in Perlitz's release from custody. A federal magistrate judge had previously concluded that Perlitz was a danger to the community and ordered him held without bail after his arrest in September.

Perlitz, a 39-year-old graduate of Fairfield University, was indicted in January and charged with nine counts of traveling outside the United States with the intent to engage in sexual conduct with persons under the age of 18, and 10 counts of engaging in sexual conduct in foreign places with persons under the age of 18. He faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count, if convicted.

The former Fairfield resident is the former founder and director of Project Pierre Toussaint in Haiti's north coast city of Cap-Haitien.

Perlitz argued in court in New Haven, and Arterton agreed earlier this week, that prosecution in Connecticut would violate his constitutional right to be tried in a place where his crimes were allegedly committed. His lawyer, William F. Dow III, argued that no conduct by Perlitz essential to any element of the crimes with which he is charged took place in Connecticut.

Federal prosecutors had argued, unsuccessfully, that because Perlitz lived in Connecticut, drove from Connecticut to a New York airport, bought airline tickets using money raised in Connecticut, and booked his travel from Connecticut, he committed acts in Connecticut that were essential elements of the crimes.

Prosecutors have said Perlitz flew to Haiti from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. On Thursday, federal prosecutors presented a detailed arrest warrant application to a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York. The airport is within his jurisdiction. The judge approved the application and issued a new arrest warrant. It was unclear when the warrant would be served on Perlitz, who is being held in a Rhode Island prison.

A spokesman for Connecticut U.S. Attorney David B. Fein said his office probably would seek to re-indict Perlitz in the Eastern District of New York. He previously pleaded not guilty to the same charges in Connecticut.

Arterton had concluded that what federal prosecutors said was Perlitz's criminal activity in Connecticut was "only non–criminal conduct in preparation for, and prior to, the criminal conduct charged."

The Justice Department has raised the profile of the Perlitz case to demonstrate an aggressive stance against "sex tourists" who travel abroad to molest vulnerable children.

Perlitz, a 1992 graduate of Fairfield University, moved from Connecticut to suburban Denver a year ago. The indictment against him said he spent most of his time since 1991 in Haiti.

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