(CN) — Sordid litigation over a U.S. charity founder dogged by unproven child-abuse allegations returned to court with a new defamation complaint.
In a suit filed on Aug. 12 in Maine, Michael Geilenfeld and the nonprofit fundraiser Hearts with Haiti say Freeport resident Paul Kendrick continues to drag their names through the mud despite a trial verdict last year that “completely vindicated” them against Kendrick’s allegations.
Geilenfeld says he had never even met Kendrick when in 2011 he became the subject of Kendrick’s campaign of harassment.
A good chunk of Geilenfeld’s 42-page complaint in Cumberland County Superior Court is spent reciting the former missionary worker’s charitable acts.
Geilenfeld says his St. Joseph’s Home for Boys has been a “refuge for formerly destitute Haitian street children” since 1985, but Kendrick is obsessed with the lie that Geilenfeld is sexually abusing children.
Maintaining that he has never abused anyone, Geilenfeld says Kendrick’s unrelenting claims to the contrary quickly began hurting his charity work.
Geilenfeld brought a 2013 federal complaint against Kendrick in Maine, but he says Kendrick’s bullying and intimidation “continued unabated.”
He says the court has sanctioned Kendrick to the tune of thousands of dollars, while Kendrick’s allegations went nowhere.
Kendick grew desperate, according to the complaint, after learning that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s investigation of Geilenfeld turned up nothing.
False allegations Kendrick and his investigator had drummed up soon led to Geilenfeld’s arrest in Haiti.
Geilenfeld says he spent nearly a year behind bars before he was exonerated in April 2015. After he finally had his “day in court” against Kendrick three months later, a jury awarded Geilenfeld and Hearts with Haiti $14.5 million in damages.
Geilenfeld’s new lawsuit says Kendrick has shown no sign of stopping.
“Throughout post-verdict months, Kendrick disseminated mass emails falsely stating that Geilenfeld would be arrested again in Haiti, or was wanted for arrest, or that he was a child abuser, or that children at the St. Joseph Family operations supported by Hearts with Haiti and founded by Geilenfeld continued to be unsafe, uncared for and harmed,” the complaint says.
Geilfeld notes this could not be further from the truth. In fact, “at St. Joseph Family of Haiti these children are in one of the best safe havens in the nation, with enriching education and life-saving services … in the background of their living in one of the most impoverished nations in the world.”
The complaint demands punitive damages for defamation. It is signed by attorneys Mark Lavoie, Russell Pierce, Robert Cummins and Devin Deane with the Portland firm Norman Hanson & DeTroy.
As the new case takes off, Geilenfeld is still embroiled in an appeal from his last suit. Earlier this year, the First Circuit reversed the 2015 verdict against Kendrick for lack of jurisdiction. On remand two months ago, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock Jr. said the original case had to be dismissed because the actions Geilenfeld described occurred while he was living outside the United States.
“This action is brought to ensure remedy … in the event the second amended judgment is not vacated on appeal,” the new complaint says.
Attorney Lavoie has not return an email seeking comment.
Kendrick meanwhile was adamant in a phone interview that Geilenfeld’s day of reckoning will come.
“I can assure you if this goes into state court it will not be litigated anywhere near what it was in Federal Court,” Kendrick said.
“We will go forward,” he added. “The emails and all that stuff, trying to make victims in liars, will all be turned around in a second trial.”
- Judge Weighs Fight Over Dietary Guidelines
- AIG’s Post-Bailout Tax Suit Faces Jury Trial