In orphanages, a Brother-Predator caused Mayhem in Haiti under the guise of goodwill
By Valerie G. Dirksen*
SPECIAL TO HO—The first American Brother with the Missionaries of Charity claims he devoted his life to helping the poorest of the poor in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti. The stories he shared about life in Haiti with the world could bring even the hardest heart to tears. “Bring me the street children, the ones no one else wants. We want to teach them they are special and loved,” he would say. Through the years, boys came and went through the program, some even died in his care. The boys were taught to dance, sing and perform. They were even taught karate so they could fight each other to entertain visitors. Several months a year, the group toured in the United States and Canada to raise funds, thus missing school. He convinced everyone this was “therapy” for the broken boys. The brother’s stories always pulled at the heartstrings, and the boys performed their hearts out. One dance, called “the shoe shine,” depicted a Haitian man in a purple suit, smoking and refusing to pay the poor boy who was in rags. The police came and threaten to take the boy to jail. The audience always became engaged, and sadly, this is the vision most foreigners now have about Haitians.
The brother claimed he was raising cultural awareness about Haiti. After the show, the brother asked for a freewill donation. Emotional patrons, having just witnessed the greatest underdog-to-success story, were always quick to take out their wallets and checkbooks to put something in the baskets. Some were known to write checks for thousands of dollars, and many $100 bills made it into the baskets. And, the audience was told: “100% of every donation goes to the children of Haiti.”
Sadly, life at the homes, really orphanages, is anything but the loving story the brother tells. In fact, throughout the years, different groups of boys have reached out to the authorities for help. They reported of being sexually, emotionally and physically abused by the self-proclaimed “Ange Michel” – and what an angel! These boys, who are orphaned or abandoned, don’t have parents to whom to talk. Due to the control and power that this brother had in a country like Haiti, it was very dangerous for the victims to report anything. Besides that, the brother tells everyone that Haitians are “liars, cheaters and stealers who have learned their tricks on the streets of Haiti and they are just manipulative.” In fact, that is a description that could be used to describe the brother himself. Sadly, even neighbors and friends turn on the victims, and accuse them of causing problems. Such is the reality of this dirty secret in Haiti — which is no longer secret.
The victims have shared their stories with priests, pastors, doctors and teachers and even with the U.S. Embassy. Some have made formal accusations to Marie-Carmel DeJean, the former head of “Institut du Bienêtre social et Recherches” (French acronym IBESR), a Haitian government organization offering children protective services. Even Catholic Archbishop Wilton Daniel, formerly from Atlanta, now in Washington, responsible for the church sex abuse scandals, has known about this situation since 2003. All these people have done nothing to help the victims seek justice and healing. One victim said, “After telling 12 visitors what was really happening at the house, and he told me I was lucky to be there, with a roof over my head, I decided to focus on my studies, because no one cared about our
All told, 10 times, over 30 years, the boys have gone to the authorities with their complaints. Madame Arielle Jeanty Villadrouin, the current IBESR director, conducted an investigation in January 2014, closed the home at Delmas 91 for minors, and refused to license it. Not long after that, Instruction Judge Al Dunel Dimanche ordered that the brother be jailed. In October 2014, he was arrested and spent 237 days in the Port-au-Prince National Penitentiary. You’ve probably heard about him: Michael K. Geilenfeld.
On his release, he went to the United States but by July 2015, he was back in Haiti. In October 2015, the Chief Government Prosecutor, Ocnam Daméus, and Attorney General Jean Roody Ali issued a search warrant and discovered minors at the home at Delmas 91. Authorities found three minors coming home from school. After interviewing several victims, an arrest warrant was issued. The warrant, signed by Magistrate Judge Abner Emile, led to the issuance of a “Red Interpol alert” arrest warrant for the brother. Rather than face the charges, Geilenfeld fled Haiti and went to Anamuya, north of Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, to join his man/wife, Brunel Ezra, who had opened a home for children there sometime after he fled Haiti.
Reportedly, this Brunel Ezra has a long history of trouble with the law. Not only did he stab a minor in the chest but on January 29, 2014, he had shot Haitian rapper O’Gun in the face at the Kinam Hotel in Pétion-Ville and fled to the Dominican Republic. Those at the Anamuya home, called “Casa de los Rios,” appear to be children of Haitian refugees and the operation is funded by organizations in the U.S. and possibly Canada. Several fundraising websites connected to the brother continue to operate and mention is made to the homes in Haiti, but nothing is said about the brother’s legal troubles or his business in the Dominican Republic.
Meanwhile, authorities in the Dominican Republic have reported a major problem of organ trafficking going on in the country, with Haitian refugees being among the prime suspects. Additionally, it should be pointed out that the unlicensed Anamuya orphanage doubles up as a guesthouse. Based on what is known about the visitors to the Haitian homes, one can imagine what’s happening at Anamuya.
In April of this year, based on the “Red Interpol Alert,” Dominican law enforcement apprehended Michael Geilenfeld in Higuey. Considering that he was in violation of the U.S. Protect Act of 2003, the Dominican officials alerted U.S. law enforcement about his arrest. They waited two weeks for the American authorities to pick him up. Whereupon, Dominican law enforcement escorted him to New York John F. Kennedy international airport where his lawyer was waiting for him. Moreover, the Dominican Republic issued a “Blue Interpol Alert.” Even with two Interpol alerts targeting him, the brother continues with his fundraising activities in the United States.
The US Justice Department is well aware of the brother’s dossier, including the twenty sworn testimonies that have been filed at the Office of Protection of Minors, a branch of Haiti’s Central Directorate of the Judiciary Police (French acronym DCPJ). Definitely, the wheels of justice have been more than slow on this case.
Haitian and Dominican officials don’t want Michael Geinlenfeld back on the island of Hispaniola. Yet, he continues with his fundraising activities, and his homes, or so-called orphanages, are still open for business under the name of St. Joseph family. One always hears about what’s wrong with Haiti. But, here is something that is very right about Haiti. In October 2015, the Haitian justice system managed to issue an arrest warrant for rape, sexual aggression and abuse of title against Michael Geilenfeld and it is in force for 10 years, with expiration on October 28, 2025. The young men whose testimonies resulted in this judicial warrant are an inspiration to victims of predators everywhere. Despite several roadblocks, they continued to fight courageously for justice to be done.
Predator Geilenfeld will be looking over his shoulder for the next six years, unless justice nabs him before then. Sadly, he is not the only one preying on Haitian children. As mentioned previously, orphanages double as guesthouses for visiting volunteers. Foreigners love photo ops with the poor. It appeals to their egos. This is missionary tourism and Haiti is full of such tourists and the cases of several of these missionary tourists have reached U.S. courts where some have received stiff prison sentences.
Stories of abuse at orphanages are very common. From Daniel Pye in Jacmel, Father John Duarte of Cap-Haitian and Pétion-Ville, Father Marc Boisvertin Les Cayes, Bob Valerius in Cap Haitian, Michael Brewer in Tabarre, Father Mathew Andrew Carter in Croix des Bouquets, Father Ron Voss in Port-au-Prince and Doug Perlitz in Cap-Haitian, these predators got the message that Haiti was open for business. Many are connected to the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which advocates for lowering the age of consent for consensual sex.
This is a public health crisis throughout the Caribbean. It is multi-generational and has had damaging effects on society. Victims need help to heal from the invisible scars that are as real as scars from a machete blow. In fact, some psychological experts suggest that the invisible scars are even deeper and more painful. Without treatment, they will negatively affect certain individuals during a lifetime.
The victims demand justice. They are protected by Haitian laws and the Haitian Constitution. There should be outrage in the land, the first free Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere and only successful slave revolt in the world! Haitians, your children are being victimized. You should be silent no more. Children, the future of every nation, are especially more vulnerable in a poor country like Haiti. For example, in February 2017, there was a sex trafficking bust at the Kaliko Beach Resort, north of Port-au- Prince. The American predators were allowed to leave without being charged while their Haitian accomplices were arrested. But, nothing has been heard of the case ever since.
A small group of volunteer advocates at the International Children’s Rights Advocate’s Society has worked tirelessly with Haitian psychologist Wilcox To-yo, MD, to raise awareness and help these victims move from their victim status to that of survivor. Salon Haïtien Santé Men-tale et du Bien-Ȇtre will be holding an “International Scientific Symposium,” October 5th and 6th at the Hotel Oasis in Pétion-Ville. The theme this year is “Children, Women and Mental Health in Haiti.” For additional information, call (509) 2209- 6838 and 3474-7414 in Haiti or 678-313-8437 in the U.S. We are looking for sponsors to help with this very important national dialogue.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin Luther King Jr., adding, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” These words are as true today as they were when he wrote them from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. We need to continue Dr. King’s legacy. We all have a responsibility to help the vulnerable in society, including the young, the elderly and the physically challenged. A dialogue must be opened on the unspeakable problem of sexual victimization going on in so-called orphanages in Haiti. As it is said, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Acting on what we believe is right; we should all be part of the solution.
*Valerie G. Dirksen is President of International Children’s Rights Advocate’s Society www.icras8.com
Valerie Dirksen’s article is on page 7 of the Haiti JournalHaiti-Journal-Of-September-4-11-2019
© 2019, Speak Project. All rights reserved.