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Orphanage closed, founder arrested

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Orphanage closed, founder arrested

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – A United States man who founded a boys’ orphanage in Haiti nearly two decades ago was arrested yesterday following abuse allegations, authorities said.

Michael Karl Geilenfeld, 62, was detained at the orphanage on suspicion of charges of indecent assault and criminal conspiracy, Port-au-Prince General Prosecutor Charles Kerson told The Associated Press.

Geilenfeld was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police pickup truck and taken to a police station in the Petionville district of Port-au-Prince. He declined comment to an AP journalist before he was taken away, as did a manager of the orphanage who rode with Geilenfeld to the station.

Kerson said Geilenfeld did not resist arrest or say anything to police as they entered the St Joseph’s Home for Boys in the Delmas neighbourhood yesterday afternoon.

“Many people have brought complaints about this place,” Kerson said, adding that police will interrogate him.

Kerson said a judge ordered the children removed from the orphanage earlier this year.

Alain Lemithe, Geilenfeld’s attorney, arrived at the police station and told the AP that police have no evidence against his client. He accused the prosecutor of detaining him without an arrest warrant.

“This is arbitrary and illegal,” Lemithe said. “They have no proof.”

He declined further comment.

Geilenfeld was placed in a holding cell at the police station, where he sat on the floor and waited for authorities.

Williams Lamarre, a 28-year-old Haitian, told the AP he had been working for Geilenfeld for roughly six years and that he was surprised by the arrest.

“I don’t know what to think,” he said. “I have this job because of Michael. I did not expect this at all.”

Lamarre declined further comment before he entered the gate leading to the orphanage and locked it behind him.