Orphanage founder Michael Geilenfeld describes the first cell where he was kept during his 237 days in a Haitian prison as “my picture of hell.”

There were 95 men yelling and fighting, sweating and smoking, while crammed so tightly together in a single room with overflowing sewage that they could not lie down, he said.

Geilenfeld told members of a jury about his imprisonment while testifying Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland in the trial of his lawsuit against Freeport resident Paul Kendrick.

Geilenfeld has accused Kendrick of defamation for an email campaign falsely alleging he sexually abused the boys at the orphanage in Haiti and for using those false allegations to have him arrested and imprisoned by Haitian authorities.

“Literally like sardines, you were shoulder to shoulder. You could kneel on the floor, but you couldn’t stretch out,” Geilenfeld testified, describing the first prison holding cell in Haiti where he was held for six days.

Tuesday was Geilenfeld’s second day on the witness stand, first answering questions Monday and Tuesday morning by his attorney, Peter DeTroy, followed by cross-examination by Kendrick’s attorney, David Walker.

Geilenfeld testified that he learned in an email from Kendrick in February 2014 that a lawsuit in Haiti had been filed against Geilenfeld accusing him of child sex abuse.

“It made me understand that Paul Kendrick was serious about his intent to have me put in jail,” Geilenfeld said.

Kendrick and Geilenfeld had never met at that point, though Kendrick had been sending nearly daily emails to numerous recipients since 2011 making accusations against Geilenfeld. Geilenfeld filed the defamation lawsuit against Kendrick in Portland in 2013, and the case had been slated for trial in October 2014.

But a month before the scheduled start of the trial in Portland, Geilenfeld was arrested in Haiti. Police in Port-au-Prince rushed onto the property of St. Joseph’s Home for Boys and took him into custody at gunpoint, he said.

“It was a shock beyond description. I was sitting in the garden reading and armed men with black masks over their faces with just eyes showing and guns pointed at me,” Geilenfeld said. “I was put in back of an open pickup truck.”

After his arrest, he was brought first to a city jail for three days, then brought to prison, where he was kept until a Haitian judge dismissed the case and declared Geilenfeld innocent,

“It was an experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone in this room, and that includes Mr. Kendrick. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” Geilenfeld said of his imprisonment.

Geilenfeld described the charge against him in Haiti as sexual molestation, but he said the basis of the allegation was that he is a homosexual and was putting children at risk because of his sexual orientation.

Under cross-examination, Walker questioned Geilenfeld about numerous other allegations of child sex abuse that have been brought against him by former residents of his Haitian orphanage since he founded it in 1985.

Walker questioned Geilenfeld about sex abuse allegations in 1987, 1990, 1995, 2004, 2006 and 2007. He named 17 young Haitian men who made those allegations.

“You agree it’s not Paul Kendrick’s fault before 2011 that these young men came forward and made these allegations?” Walker asked.

Geilenfeld agreed.

But after Walker’s cross-examination, DeTroy questioned Geilenfeld again about an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012 following Kendrick’s accusations.

The U.S. investigators opened two cases, first into possible sexual abuse of minors and later into the possible production of child pornography and child sexual tourism. Both ended the same way, without finding evidence of wrongdoing. DeTroy showed jurors documents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of North Carolina indicating that the second case closed on June 28, 2012, more than two years before Geilenfeld’s arrest in Haiti.

Geilenfeld testified that the U.S. investigators interviewed the same former orphanage residents whose allegations were used as a basis for the Haitian charges. Geilenfeld said the Haitian judge interviewed those same former orphans and reached the same conclusion before dismissing the case against him.

The defamation trial is expected to continue for the rest of the week and possibly into next week.

Geilenfeld’s lawsuit claims that Kendrick’s accusations have resulted in the loss of at least $2 million in donations to Hearts with Haiti, the nonprofit organization that raises money for Geilenfeld’s orphanage. While the lawsuit was pending, Geilenfeld added a charge of wrongful imprisonment, accusing Kendrick for his imprisonment in Haiti.

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