The American founder of an orphanage in Haiti who sued a Freeport man over repeated accusations of child sexual abuse has been released from a Haitian jail after a judge there found the accusations unsubstantiated.

The release of Michael Geilenfeld will likely clear the way for his defamation claim against child abuse activist Paul Kendrick to go forward in U.S. District Court in Portland.

The trial in Maine had been scheduled for last fall when Geilenfeld was arrested at the St. Joseph’s Home for Boys in Port-au-Prince on Sept. 5. The arrest and questions about when he might be released caused the court in Maine to delay the trial.

A Haitian judge ordered 63-year-old Geilenfeld released Wednesday after a brief trial. His defense attorney in Haiti, Alain Lemithe, said Thursday that the accusations against Geilenfeld by five former orphanage residents were vague and unsubstantiated, the Associated Press reported.

Federal Judge John Woodcock Jr., who is presiding over the defamation case in Maine, has scheduled a telephone conference on May 8 with attorneys before he decides how to proceed.

Kendrick is accused in the civil case of “a malicious campaign of outrageous conduct” for making claims in hundreds of emails, which were repeated on websites and radio broadcasts, that Geilenfeld had sexually abused Haitian boys in his care years ago.

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.

Geilenfeld’s lead attorney in the Maine case, Peter DeTroy III, said Thursday that Geilenfeld is expected to get his U.S. passport back next week, now that the criminal case in Haiti has been dismissed.

“I think finally the decks are cleared, and we are finally able to go to trial,” DeTroy said.

Kendrick said Thursday that he has been in contact with an attorney in Haiti who represents some of the men who accused Geilenfeld of molesting them as children. An attorney for the victims planned to file an appeal of the Haitian judge’s decision, according to the Associated Press.

Kendrick said he learned that neither the men Geilenfeld was accused of abusing nor their attorney in Haiti had been notified of Geilenfeld’s trial there and none had been able to testify.

Kendrick said that if Geilenfeld is able to return to the United States for the trial in Maine, Kendrick is prepared to call seven former Haitian orphanage residents to testify about what they say Geilenfeld did to them.

“We will indeed welcome a trial here in the openness and transparency of a U.S. federal courtroom,” Kendrick said.

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

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Twitter: @scottddolan