PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The lawyer for an orphanage founder accused of sexually abusing boys in Haiti got into a heated confrontation with a man who advocates for child victims, shouting "Shut up!" as the sides met in Maine for a deposition in a defamation lawsuit.
The tense exchange erupted as orphanage founder Michael Geilenfeld arrived for a deposition in a lobby where Paul Kendrick suggested that the truth was being covered up and that Geilenfeld left Haiti illegally.
Geilenfeld's lawyer, Peter DeTroy, advised his client not to answer any questions and snapped "shut up!" and "keep your mouth shut!" to Kendrick.
"Get him under control!" DeTroy angrily told Kendrick's lawyer, David Walker, as DeTroy waited for elevator doors to close.
The group later met behind closed doors for the deposition as plaintiff and defendant met face-to-face in Maine, where the defamation lawsuit is due to proceed next month.
Geilenfeld, who has denied sexually abusing any children, is an Iowa native and a former member of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity group who founded the St. Joseph's Home for Boys in Port-Au-Prince in 1985.
His lawyers hold Kendrick's email and blog campaign responsible for his arrest in Haiti last September. Criminal charges against Geilenfeld were dropped in April in Haiti before a new trial was ordered last month.
Geilenfeld said Kendrick's accusations cost more than $1.5 million in donations. The defamation lawsuit was brought by Geilenfeld and Hearts of Haiti, a North Carolina nonprofit that raises money for the orphanage.
Kendrick, of Freeport, is a co-founder of the Maine chapter of the Catholic lay reform group Voice of the Faithful. In his role as advocate for child sex abuse victims, Kendrick learned of allegations against Geilenfeld and began a campaign against him 2011.
The defamation lawsuit will give the alleged victims an opportunity to be heard in a U.S. courtroom, Kendrick said. Two will travel to Portland to testify, and four will testify via video deposition, he said.
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