Freeport resident Paul Kendrick has been so dogged in spreading his often unwelcome message about victims of child sex abuse that his past efforts have gotten him banned from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland and threatened with formal rebuke from the Roman Catholic Church.

That didn’t stop him.

If anything, Kendrick’s message has become even more insistent in the past few years as he focused on an American man who founded an orphanage decades ago for impoverished boys in Haiti. Kendrick has accused the man, whom he has never met, of raping many youths in his care.

Since 2011, Kendrick has made those accusations against 62-year-old Michael Geilenfeld in a torrent of letters, hundreds of emails, Web postings and radio broadcasts. He made so many allegations that the orphanage founder and an American nonprofit organization that raises money to fund his Haitian efforts, Hearts with Haiti, sued Kendrick for defamation last year in federal court.

But Kendrick, scheduled to defend himself against the charge at a U.S. District Court trial in Portland starting Oct. 7, is far from deterred. He feels encouraged.

This month, the Haitian National Police arrested Geilenfeld on charges of indecent assault and conspiracy, dramatically cuffing him at the orphanage in Port-au-Prince and hauling him away in the bed of a pickup truck. Haitian media outlets had been notified ahead of time and were there to document the arrest.


Kendrick, 64, said he sees the upcoming trial as the best stage for delivering the message he wants heard. He plans to call as defense witnesses seven adult men who were once boyhood residents at the Haitian orphanage to testify against Geilenfeld, offering them an American forum to speak where their words could hold far more impact than in their homeland of Haiti.

“Finally, the opportunity for these victims, in the safety of a United States courthouse,” to talk about the abuse and their suffering, Kendrick said.


Kendrick, a financial adviser at RBC Wealth Management, sat for an hour-long interview at his downtown Portland office last week to talk about the upcoming trial, Geilenfeld’s arrest in Haiti, and what led him to become such a vocal advocate for child victims of sex abuse.

He wasn’t always like this – protesting outside churches, inundating missionary groups with letters accusing them of funding child molestation, and acting as a thorn in the bishop’s side.

Kendrick, a devout Roman Catholic, is deeply committed to institutions of Jesuit education. He graduated from Cheverus High School in Portland in 1968 and from Fairfield University, a Jesuit school in Connecticut, in 1972.


As a successful investment adviser, he gave generously to Cheverus until the late 1990s, when a member of his family asked him “Why?”

Until then, Kendrick was unaware of an investigation into child sex abuse at his cherished high school. The Cheverus investigation led to two teachers, including a Jesuit priest, being removed from the school after complaints they sexually abused students there in the 1970s and 1980s.

Around the same time, in the early 2000s, the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal began coming to light. Thousands of priests and members of Roman Catholic orders came under investigation for sexually abusing children over decades. Investigators found that in many cases when the church was made aware of the allegations, it deliberately moved accused priests to different parishes rather than remove them.

In response to the scandal, Kendrick helped found a Maine affiliate of a Roman Catholic Church reform group based in Massachusetts, called Voice of the Faithful, in 2002.

“We stood in front of the churches. We were spit at,” Kendrick said. “Millions of Catholics failed to stand up and demand redress.”

After years of protests, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland obtained a criminal trespass order against Kendrick in 2008 that barred him from the cathedral, the chancery and the bishop’s residence. He also was served an order to cease and desist from harassing then-Portland Bishop Richard Malone.


Dave Guthro, the diocese’s spokesman, did not return a phone message last week seeking comment about Kendrick.

Kendrick first visited Haiti in 2003 and has gone back numerous times since. He initially became an advocate for sex abuse victims at a school in northern Haiti before becoming concerned about the orphanage in Port-au-Prince, St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, that Geilenfeld founded in 1985.

“Homosexuality is taboo in Haiti,” Kendrick said. “If a child goes to his parents and said, ‘The teacher abused me,’ the child could be ostracized from the family. If it’s been difficult for victims (in the United States) to come forward, it’s nearly impossible in Haiti.”

The American founder of the school in northern Haiti, Douglas Perlitz of Colorado, was ultimately sentenced in federal court in Connecticut to nearly 20 years in prison for sexually abusing at least eight minor victims over the course of a decade in Haiti. Fairfield University, which helped fund Perlitz’s school, reached a $12 million settlement with lawyers representing 24 boys from the school. Other civil suits remain pending.


Geilenfeld’s arrest Sept. 5 in Haiti has cast uncertainty on whether his defamation case against Kendrick can go to trial Oct. 7 as planned.


Geilenfeld’s attorney in the defamation case, Peter DeTroy III, has called the timing of Geilenfeld’s arrest a month before the scheduled trial “suspicious.”

“If he’s in jail, we obviously have an impasse in the ability of the case going forward,” DeTroy said last week.

Attorneys on both sides of the Portland case spoke Friday with U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. in a phone conference, and the trial date was left unchanged for now.

DeTroy said he has been unable to get any information from Haitian authorities about Geilenfeld and whether the charges against him in Haiti are legitimate and whether Geilenfeld will be released from custody.

“Who knows what will happen?” DeTroy said, noting that the Haitian criminal justice system lacks the due process of the American system.

Haiti has ranked for the past several years as one of the most corrupt governments in the world, according to surveys conducted by Transparency International.


Kendrick said DeTroy’s comment that the timing of Geilenfeld’s arrest was “suspicious” is misleading. Kendrick said there is no way that he could have, all the way from Maine, influenced whether the Haitian government arrested Geilenfeld.

“It’s just not possible,” Kendrick said. “To say those kinds of things is to denigrate Haitian law enforcement.”

But Kendrick admitted that his efforts, working with a Haitian journalist and political activist, Cyrus Sibert, at least indirectly led to Geilenfeld’s arrest.

In an email last week, Sibert said he learned of “inappropriate” and “lewd” conduct by Geilenfeld at the orphanage. “People who visited Saint Joseph’s put me in touch with alleged victims. I saw documents and I heard testimonies of multiple scandals at different point(s) in time over 30 years, accusing (Michael) Geilenfeld of child abuses.”

Kendrick and Sibert have interviewed former residents of Geilenfeld’s orphanage. They reached out to a Haitian attorney, Emmanuel Fleurant, who sued Geilenfeld in Haitian courts and presented their findings to Haitian prosecutors, Kendrick said.

“Our advocacy has, of course, brought this situation with Geilenfeld to all sorts of places in Haiti, but they’ve had to at least take a second look,” he said.


Kendrick said that although he and Sibert have been trying for years to have Geilenfeld arrested and charged with child sex abuse, he didn’t know ahead of time that it was actually going to happen.

As the defamation case nears, both he and Sibert have continued to email accusations against Geilenfeld and post them publicly online.

The federal judge in Portland has scheduled a sanctions hearing Sept. 25 to determine whether Kendrick should be penalized for broadcasting confidential and “highly sensitive” court documents online in violation of the court’s order.

“When the victims testify, and they’re the most important ones here in my mind, I will have done everything I can to help them,” Kendrick said. “I have acted in good faith. I believe these men, and I want them to get a measure of justice that has never come through.”

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: scottddolan

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: