‘Cunning’ orphanage founder ‘sexually abused boys for years’ | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

Michael Geilenfeld, 71, from Iowa, was labelled as a ‘dangerous, manipulative and cunning child sexual predator’ for his alleged actions after setting up an orphanage in Haiti

Michael Geilenfeld founded the orphanage in Port au Prince (Facebook)

An American who founded a Haitian orphanage allegedly forced four boys to engage in sexual acts over a decade ago, a prosecutor revealed on Friday.

Michael Geilenfeld, 71, was labelled as a “dangerous, manipulative and cunning child sexual predator” by Jessica Urban, a Justice Department Child Exploitation prosecutor. The first time the authorities shared details about the investigation leading to Geilenfeld’s indictment for child abuse was during this Denver court hearing.

Urban presented the evidence in her argument against Geilenfeld being released on bail. She expressed concerns that he or his supporters might attempt to frighten victims to deter them from witnessing against him.

Judge Scott Varholak postponed his decision. He said he needed more information about Geilenfeld’s residence status in Colorado, where he was arrested last week.

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Boys play with a balloon in a small street in a neighborhood of Delmas 2, in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince(AFP via Getty Images)

Geilenfeld’s lawyer, Robert Oberkoetter, speaking via video on Friday, told the court his client had a full-time job taking care of his landlady and her seriously disabled child. When questioned by Varholak about the presence of a minor in the house, Geilenfeld responded: “That person is 33 years old.” Oberkoetter has not commented on the accusations against his client.

An indictment from Florida accuses Geilenfeld of travelling from Miami to Haiti to engage in inappropriate sexual conduct with someone under 18. According to the indictment, the abuse took place between November 2006 and December 2010, when Geilenfeld ran the St. Joseph’s Home for Boys orphanage. This charge could lead to a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Varholak expressed concern about the time it took for a prosecution against Geilenfeld, questioning the threat he posed after being free for a considerable time. He mentioned that a federal grand jury in North Carolina, who investigated Geilenfeld in 2012, didn’t issue an indictment, which he stated was rare.

Aerial view of the city on September 11, 2023 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti(Getty Images)

In a court filing, Oberkoetter accused the prosecutors of “forum shopping,” where lawyers aim for cases to be tried where they believe they can achieve more success.

Haitian authorities have been probing allegations of sexual abuse against Geilenfeld, who was arrested in September 2014 due to the accusations made by Paul Kendrick, a child advocate in Maine. Kendrick labelled Geilenfeld a serial paedophile following conversations with young men who claim they were victims of abuse by Geilenfeld during their childhood in Port-au-Prince where he started the orphanage in 1985.

Geilenfeld labelled these accusations as “vicious, vile lies,” and his case was dropped in 2015 after spending 237 days locked up in Haiiti. Later on, Geilenfeld and a charity linked to the orphanage, Hearts for Haiti, levied a lawsuit against Kendrick in a federal court in Maine. The lawsuit held Kendrick liable for Geilenfeld’s imprisonment, damage to his reputation alongside the loss of donation amounting to millions of dollars.

The lawsuit came to an end in 2019 after Kendrick’s insurance companies settled by paying $3 million to Hearts with Haiti, but no money was paid to Geilenfeld.

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