A federal judge found a Freeport man in contempt of court Friday for releasing confidential documents in a defamation lawsuit brought against him by the American founder of an orphanage in Haiti.

Paul Kendrick admitted in U.S. District Court in Portland on Jan. 30 that he violated a court order not to release certain documents before trial because he felt the information had to be made public.

Kendrick is accused in the lawsuit of “a malicious campaign of outrageous conduct” for claiming in waves of website postings, radio broadcasts and emails that the orphanage’s founder, Michael Geilenfeld, sexually abused orphans in his care.

Geilenfeld and the North Carolina charity that funds his work in Haiti, Hearts with Haiti, sued Kendrick in February 2013, more than two years after Kendrick began his campaign against Geilenfeld.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock Jr. said in an order issued Friday that while he found Kendrick in contempt of court for violating the order not to release confidential information in 2013, he would not sanction him directly for it. Geilenfeld’s attorneys had sought a sanction of $50,000 and jail time.

Woodcock instead imposed an indirect sanction, ordering Kendrick to pay legal fees and expenses incurred by Geilenfeld’s lawyers in bringing their contempt-of-court arguments.

“Here the court is stymied because the harm caused by disseminating a false allegation is markedly different from the harm caused by disseminating a true one, and the resolution of the truth or falsity of Mr. Kendrick’s accusations against Mr. Geilenfeld and Hearts with Haiti must await trial,” Woodcock wrote in his 34-page order.

The case had been scheduled for trial Oct. 7 last year, but was put on hold after Geilenfeld was arrested by Haitian authorities on Sept. 5 at the orphanage in Port-au-Prince on the same allegations of child sex abuse that Kendrick is accused of raising. It is unclear when, or if, Geilenfeld will be released from jail.

Kendrick was found in contempt, in part, for releasing testimony from depositions of Haitian men who accused Geilenfeld of sexually abusing them as children. The testimony was supposed to remain confidential until trial.

Geilenfeld’s lawyers hold Kendrick responsible for Geilenfeld’s arrest by Haitian authorities. Devin Deane, who represents Geilenfeld and Hearts with Haiti, told the judge that they plan to revise the defamation lawsuit to add a charge of wrongful imprisonment.

Woodcock gave Geilenfeld’s attorneys 14 days to file their itemized expense sheets for how much it cost them to bring forward their contempt-of-court arguments.

“We are pleased with the court’s order finding Mr. Kendrick in contempt of court,” said Deane. “What was granted was the substance of the motions (for sanctions).”

Deane said he felt Woodcock made a “good point” in his ruling that any additional arguments for sanctions against Kendrick will be brought up at trial.

Kendrick, reached by phone late Friday afternoon, said he had only had a chance to skim Woodcock’s order, but hoped the ruling would bring the case closer to trial.

“Having been through the judicial process for the first time in my life – and it’s been over two years – it’s been a very disappointing process in which to get to the truth,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick said Geilenfeld’s attorneys have done “everything they can to deflect the truth to minimalize the truth to protect a multi-accused child molester and to provide him with unlimited access to children.”

He plans to call on seven men at the trial who say they were sexually abused by Geilenfeld as children.

Kendrick said he intends to abide by Woodcock’s “admonishments,” and if he finds any other confidential materials that he feels need to be shared before trial, he will contact his lawyer to present them to the judge first.

No trial date has been set.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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