Haiti

Haiti missionary's arrest clouds Triangle fundraising efforts

Posted September 22, 2014

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— An orphanage in Haiti that is funded primarily by money from the Triangle remains shut down following the founder's arrest.

Churches and area volunteers have donated millions of dollars to St. Joseph's School for Boys. Much of the funding is funneled though Hearts With Haiti, a nonprofit run out of West Raleigh Presbyterian Church.

Founder Michael Geilenfeld, 62, remains in a jail in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after he was arrested early this month. No formal charges have been filed against him, but but Paul Kendrick, a self-described victims' rights advocate, accuses Geilenfeld of sex abuse, child prostitution and drug trafficking.

Of the three homes for children Geilenfeld operates, the home for boys where he resided has been closed, and the children who lived there have been reassigned to other homes. A second home for boys and a co-ed home for disabled children remain open and overseen by other staff members, as does an elementary school operated by St. Joseph's.

Geilenfeld's attorney, Devin Deane, calls the arrest the result of a smear campaign by Kendrick.

"It's this man's addiction to his identity as a child victim's advocate. This is what he does day in and day out," Deane said.

Deane called the timing of the arrest suspicious. Geilenfeld has sued Kendrick for defamation, and that case is set to go to trial next week. Geilenfeld's arrest could delay the trial.

Kendrick began launching strongly worded sex abuse allegations against Geilenfeld years ago.

Court documents obtained by WRAL News offer almost no proof of those claims, and a year-long investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found "no evidence" of sex abuse by Geilenfeld.

Despite emails showing Kendrick may have privately questioned the validity of the claims against Geilenfeld, attorney David Walker said Kendrick "does not have doubts and believes the numerous testimony from individuals who have come forward to tell their story."

Hearts with Haiti declined to comment Monday, but the allegations are throwing a dark cloud over fundraising efforts.

"It's sad for this to happen because it's a good mission and they need a lot of help down there. Haiti is really in a lot of trouble," donor Serita Eisenbies said.

"I don't think it would deter me from giving to them because the group itself is still a great cause. All those people are still in need," donor Julie Forsyth said.

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  • Christopher Rose Sep 22, 2014
    user avatar

    And if Geilenfeld tunrs out to be innocent it would be nice if the US would extradite Mr. Kendrick for prosecution in Haiti of filing false charges and slander. And hopefully he will get his just deserts sitting in a hatian jail.

  • glarg Sep 22, 2014

    Well this is confusing...

    Who exactly is Kendrick and how would he have this information? Is he a private US citizen? Or is he on-site at these homes in Haiti?

  • USMC Vet Sep 22, 2014

    View quoted thread


    -

    Guess you didn't read this paragraph in the story:

    "Court documents obtained by WRAL News offer almost no proof of those claims, and a year-long investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found "no evidence" of sex abuse by Geilenfeld."

  • Drew Savicki Sep 22, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    And if he isn't lying?

  • Mike Rigsbee Sep 22, 2014
    user avatar

    So, they are jailing a man of which there is NO evidence that he has done anything illegal?!

  • USMC Vet Sep 22, 2014

    "ourt documents obtained by WRAL News offer almost no proof of those claims, and a year-long investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found "no evidence" of sex abuse by Geilenfeld."

    Thanks for that WRAL. All this time, I'd been thinking negative thoughts about Geilenfeld when he's most likely not guilty at all, but is a target for Kendrick.

    How about investigating Kendrick, to see if you can dig something shady up on him. It's often those who scream the loudest about others who have the most to hide themselves.

  • censorbait Sep 22, 2014

    If the guy making the accusations is lying he should have to serve every day of the sentence that Gellenfeld would serve if he was indeed guilty.