By Felicia Persaud
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 1, 2011: On June 23rd, a U.S. national who allegedly “preyed upon” impoverished boys in Haiti, pleaded not guilty to four counts of child sex tourism. The case comes on the heels of last December’s sentencing of Douglas Perlitz for sex abuse of boys in the poor country and as the U.S. continues to shake its fingers at the world in its annual trafficking in persons report.
The reality is that many sick Americans are the ones travelling to far away corners of the earth, sometimes under the guise of being a Good Samaritan, and engaging in sex abuse of children!
In the case of Matthew Andrew Carter, it was under the veil of helping poor little boys in Haiti.
The 66-year-old U.S. national, according to U.S. investigators, went to Haiti in the mid-1990s and set up what he called the Morning Star Center for impoverished boys.
But what Carter was allegedly doing, according to court records, was forcing these young destitute children to perform sex acts for food and shelter. Carter, who also went by the names William Charles Harcourt and Bill Carter, also allegedly forced the boys to shower with him and asked them to perform sexual acts on him in his bedroom, according to a U.S. investigator who interviewed several of the youths from the facility.
In fact, court documents claimed that Carter had sex with at least eight boys, sometimes for years until they became adults and left the centre. Those who agreed to his requests were given schooling, clothing, books, compact disc players and cash.
The acts performed “defy belief,” according to U.S. prosecutors, while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director, John Morton called the alleged crime “despicable.”
The case comes to light just six months following the 20 year conviction of Connecticut resident Douglas Perlitz in December 2010, for sexually abusing children for more than a decade at a school he founded in Haiti.
In August 2010, Perlitz admitted that he engaged in illicit sexual conduct with eight children who attended the Project Pierre Toussaint School for homeless children in Cap-Haitien. Prosecutors said Perlitz gave the children money, food, clothing and electronics and threatened to take everything away and expel them from the program if they told anyone.
In court appearances at the time, six victims were flown to Connecticut to tell their stories of abuse. In one instance, one of the victims recounted how he was first sodomized on his 14th birthday in 2004.
The conviction of Perlitz and the arrest of Carter put a spotlight sharply on the issue of child sex tourism by Americans that has been swept under the rug for too long. While the U.S. State Department annually continues to slam countries for not doing enough to curb trafficking of humans for sex, missing in this is the internal focus on what its own nationals are doing.
The cases in Haiti definitely shows that more attention should be placed on those predators who travel for sex with children in poor nations where simple necessities like food and water is hard to come by. The depravity must be punished in the strongest possible manner.
Governments too globally, and especially in the Caribbean, must be warned to keep an eye on this issue as well and not simply be told to focus more on curbing human trafficking within its borders. Let’s look closely at those who come into our borders bearing gifts in the form of non-profit agencies and Good Samaritans.
The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.