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Haiti orphanage founder accused of sex abuse to be sent to Florida for trial

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Haiti orphanage founder accused of sex abuse to be sent to Florida for trial

An American founder of a Haitian orphanage who is accused of sexually abusing four boys there more than a decade ago has been ordered to be sent from Colorado to Florida to face prosecution.

Michael Geilenfeld, 71, was arrested in Colorado on Jan. 20 after being indicted in Florida, accused of traveling from Miami to Haiti between 2010 and 2016 “for the purpose of engaging in any illicit sexual conduct with another person under 18.” The charge he faces carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison in the event of a conviction.

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In a court order signed Tuesday and released Wednesday, a federal magistrate judge in Denver said U.S. marshals should take Geilenfeld to authorities in federal court in Florida’s southern district. The order did not explain why.

Earlier this month, the magistrate judge, Scott Varholak, ruled that Geilenfeld could be released from a suburban Denver federal prison to live in a halfway house in Colorado while he is prosecuted. But federal prosecutors appealed his decision in Florida. Varholak stopped his order from taking effect until a judge in Florida ruled on the matter.

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Geilenfeld’s attorney in Colorado, Brian Leedy, was out of the office and did not immediately return an email seeking comment on the order or the allegations against Geilenfeld. A Massachusetts attorney who also has represented Geilenfeld, Robert Oberkoetter, did not immediately return a telephone call or an email seeking comment.

Geilenfeld, who has faced past accusations of abusing boys, told Varholak at one court hearing that he was being held in isolation and only allowed out of his cell for two hours each morning.

Michael Geilenfeld arrives at U.S. Bankruptcy Court, July 9, 2015, in Portland, Maine. Geilenfeld, an American founder of a Haitian orphanage who is accused of sexually abusing four boys there more than a decade ago, has been ordered to be sent from Colorado to Florida to face prosecution. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

At Geilenfeld’s most recent hearing, Leedy said Geilenfeld had the support of a “large community of individuals” who have supported him for 20 years and would help him get back and forth to court dates in Florida.

Prosecutors argued that Geilenfeld, who they say allegedly abused about 20 children over decades, could try to intimidate his victims if he is freed. They also said he poses a flight risk since, given his age, any conviction could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

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Varholak called the allegations against Geilenfeld “beyond troubling” but said the government had not provided enough details to show he had actually threatened anyone or that he commited any abuse since the time alleged in the indictment.

Haitian authorities arrested Geilenfeld in September 2014 based on allegations brought by Paul Kendrick, a child advocate in Maine. Kendrick accused him of being a serial pedophile after speaking to young men who said they were abused by Geilenfeld as boys in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital where he founded the orphanage in 1985.

Geilenfeld called the claims “vicious, vile lies,” and his case was dismissed in 2015 after he spent 237 days in prison in Haiti.

He and a charity associated with the orphanage, Hearts for Haiti, sued Kendrick in federal court in Maine, blaming Kendrick for Geilenfeld’s imprisonment, damage to his reputation and the loss of millions of dollars in donations.

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Kendrick’s insurance companies ended the lawsuit in 2019 by paying $3 million to Hearts with Haiti, but nothing to Geilenfeld.

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Israel indicts sister of Hamas leader Haniyeh on terrorism incitement

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Israel indicts sister of Hamas leader Haniyeh on terrorism incitement
Israel’s State Attorney on Sunday indicted the sister of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on charges of incitement and showing solidarity with a terror group, after she allegedly praised Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that sparked the six-month old war in Gaza.
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Conservative Brazilians laud Elon Musk at rally in support of Bolsonaro

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Conservative Brazilians laud Elon Musk at rally in support of Bolsonaro

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Conservative Brazilians heaped praise Sunday on Elon Musk at a rally in support of former President Jair Bolsonaro, whose legal troubles are mounting in tandem with the billionaire entrepreneur’s feud with the South American nation’s Supreme Court.

“Brazil Thanks Elon Musk,” read one giant sign in English at the rally alongside Copacabana beach in the seaside city of Rio de Janeiro. Thousands of die-hard supporters of Bolsonaro attended.

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Musk, a self-declared free speech absolutist, is a target in an ongoing investigation over the dissemination of fake news by supporters of Bolsonaro. Musk said the social platform X wouldn’t comply with a high court justice’s order to remove certain accounts accused of spreading disinformation.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX who took over Twitter — now X — in late 2022, accused Justice Alexandre de Moraes of suppressing free speech and violating Brazil’s constitution. He noted on X that users could seek to bypass any shutdown of the social media platform by using VPNs, or virtual private networks.

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That prompted de Moraes to include Musk in an ongoing investigation into so-called digital militias and open a new investigation into obstruction, incitement and criminal conspiracy.

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Alexandre de Moraes, justice of Brazil's Supreme Federal Court

Alexandre de Moraes, justice of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court, left, speaks during a session at the Supreme Court building in Brasilia, Brazil, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. Elon Musk’s X social media platform will comply with all orders from Brazil’s Supreme Court, a week following top Justice Moraes’s decision to open an investigation into Musk and the billionaire saying he would defy the court. (Ton Molina/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Several speakers lauded Musk at Sunday’s rally.

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“What you see here are people who love liberty, who will not give up and will not kneel down to dictators, people who are willing to give their lives for freedom,” said Gustavo Gayer, a pro-Bolsonaro congressman.

Jair Bolsonaro

For his part, the former president lauded Musk for demonstrating “courage” in the face of what he called censorship by de Moraes.

“He is the man who really preserves true freedom for all of us,” said Bolsonaro, who is himself under investigation for a plethora of crimes ranging from aiding an effort to overturn the 2022 election results and plotting a coup against his leftist successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

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Brazil is an important market for social media companies. About 40 million Brazilians, or about 18% of the population, access X at least once per month, according to the market research group Emarketer.

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Biden condemns ‘blatant’ anti-Semitism at Columbia pro-Palestine protests

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Biden condemns ‘blatant’ anti-Semitism at Columbia pro-Palestine protests

Biden’s remarks come after footage emerges appearing to show Jewish students being harassed and intimidated.

United States President Joe Biden has condemned pro-Palestinian activists for acts of “blatant” anti-Semitism during protests at Columbia University.

In a statement to commemorate the Jewish holiday of Passover on Sunday, Biden said it was necessary to speak out against “the alarming surge of antisemitism – in our schools, communities, and online”.

“Silence is complicity. Even in recent days, we’ve seen harassment and calls for violence against Jews,” Biden said.

“This blatant antisemitism is reprehensible and dangerous – and it has absolutely no place on college campuses, or anywhere in our country.”

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Biden’s comments came after reports emerged over the weekend of harassment and threats against Jewish students on the campus of Columbia University in New York.

Footage shared on social media appeared to show activists telling students to “go back to Poland” and that October 7 is “going to be every day for you” – referring to Hamas’s attacks on Israel in which 1,139 people were killed.

Chabad at Columbia University, a chapter of an international Orthodox Jewish movement, said in a statement that protesters had also told Jewish students, “You have no culture”, “All you do is colonise” and to “Go back to Europe”.

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In a statement on Sunday, a group of student activists representing the protesters distanced themselves from “inflammatory individuals” and said they reject “any form of hate or bigotry”.

“We are frustrated by media distractions focusing on inflammatory individuals who do not represent us. At universities across the nation, our movement is united in valuing every human life,” the statement said.

“Our members have been misidentified by a politically-motivated mob. We have been doxxed in the press, arrested by the NYPD [New York Police Department], and locked out of our homes by the university. We have knowingly put ourselves in danger because we can no longer be complicit in Columbia funnelling our tuition dollars and grant funding into companies that profit from death.”

Biden made his remarks hours after a statement by the White House calling out “physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community”.

“While every American has the right to peaceful protect, calls for violence and physical intimidation targeting Jewish students and the Jewish community are blatantly antisemitic, unconscionable, and dangerous – they have absolutely no place on any college campus, or anywhere in the United States of America,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said.

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“And echoing the rhetoric of terrorist organisations, especially in the wake of the worst massacre committed against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, is despicable.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York State Governor Kathy Hochul have also condemned reports of harassment and intimidation at the protests.

Columbia, one of the most prestigious universities in the US, has emerged as a hotbed of student activism since the start of Israel’s war in Gaza following the October 7 attacks.

On Thursday, the New York Police Department arrested more than 100 pro-Palestinian protesters after its officers swarmed the campus and cleared an encampment set up by students.

Some students involved in the protests said they had been suspended from Columbia and its associate institution, Barnard College, including Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

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