American Founder of Haitian Orphanage Ordered to Face Prosecution in Florida

Michael Geilenfeld, the American founder of a Haitian orphanage, has been ordered to be sent from Colorado to Florida to face prosecution for alleged sexual abuse of four boys in Haiti over a decade ago. Geilenfeld, 71, was arrested in Colorado on January 20 after being indicted in Florida. The indictment accuses him of traveling from Miami to Haiti between 2010 and 2016 with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor.

In a court order signed on Tuesday and released on Wednesday, a federal magistrate judge in Denver directed U.S. marshals to transfer Geilenfeld to authorities in Florida’s southern district. The order did not provide an explanation for this decision.

Earlier this month, Magistrate Judge Scott Varholak ruled that Geilenfeld could be released from a federal prison in suburban Denver and reside in a halfway house in Colorado while awaiting prosecution. However, federal prosecutors in Florida appealed this decision, and Varholak suspended his order until a judge in Florida made a ruling.

Geilenfeld’s attorney in Colorado, Brian Leedy, and his Massachusetts attorney, Robert Oberkoetter, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the court order or the allegations against Geilenfeld.

During court hearings, Geilenfeld claimed to be held in isolation and allowed only two hours out of his cell each morning. Leedy stated that Geilenfeld had the support of a “large community of individuals” who have stood by him for two decades and would assist him in attending court dates in Florida.

Prosecutors argued that Geilenfeld, who has faced previous accusations of abusing approximately 20 children over several decades, could potentially intimidate his victims if released. They also highlighted his potential flight risk, as a conviction at his age could result in a life sentence.

Varholak acknowledged the troubling nature of the allegations against Geilenfeld but stated that the government had not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate any recent threats or abuse since the time specified in the indictment.

Geilenfeld’s legal troubles began in September 2014 when Haitian authorities arrested him based on allegations brought forward by Paul Kendrick, a child advocate from Maine. Kendrick accused Geilenfeld of being a serial pedophile after speaking to young men who claimed they were abused by Geilenfeld during their time at the orphanage he founded in Port-au-Prince in 1985. Geilenfeld vehemently denied these claims, and his case was dismissed in 2015 after spending 237 days in a Haitian prison.

Geilenfeld and the charity associated with the orphanage, Hearts with Haiti, filed a lawsuit against Kendrick in federal court in Maine, holding him responsible for Geilenfeld’s imprisonment, damage to his reputation, and the loss of millions of dollars in donations. The lawsuit was resolved in 2019 when Kendrick’s insurance companies paid $3 million to Hearts with Haiti, but no compensation was awarded to Geilenfeld.

Author: CrimeDoor

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