PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The founder of an orphanage in Haiti who is accused by a Maine activist of molesting boys told jurors that he never sexually abused children and that he wouldn't wish his imprisonment in Haiti on his worst enemy.
Michael Geilenfeld, a U.S. citizen, testified in his defamation lawsuit against Paul Kendrick in federal court that the activist who leveled the accusations and refused to back down began sending email "blitzes" starting Jan. 31, 2011.
He and his attorneys blame Kendrick for his arrest last fall on child molestation charges. He was released after 237 days when a judge dismissed charges. Attorneys for the accusers have petitioned to have the case re-examined.
"It was an experience that I wouldn't wish on anyone in this room, and that includes Mr. Kendrick. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," Geilenfeld testified Tuesday, according to the Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/1fFglqc).
Geilenfeld and Hearts with Haiti, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based charity that raises money for the orphanage, contend the accusations cost the orphanage more than $2 million in donations.
He told jurors a day earlier that he's gay and that his sexual orientation has led to past accusations of child abuse in an island nation that he described as "very homophobic." But he said the allegations of abuse were quickly dispelled.
"I never sexually abused children anywhere," Geilenfeld testified. He called the accusations "vicious, vile lies."
Kendrick, for his part, has insisted that the allegations made by Geilenfeld's accusers are true.
U.S. District Judge John Woodcock said jurors will likely be asked to focus on two issues: whether Kendrick's allegations were false and whether the accusations were made negligently.
Kendrick's team said jurors will hear from seven accusers. Two of them are expected to testify in the courtroom, and jurors will hear videotaped testimony from five others.
http://www.pressherald.comInformation from: Portland Press Herald,