By Jonathan Greig
A seemingly personal conflict between Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte and the executive director of the Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College has cast a shadow over the future of the 3-year-old organization, tasked with conducting academic research and organizing community programs.
In a flurry of emails, Dr. Jean Eddy Saint Paul, the head of the Haitian Studies Institute threatened to resign and apologized to Bichotte for his misunderstanding of what she had said and pledged to work assiduously for the institute.
“I wanted to offer my sincere apologies to you and everyone else copied on this email for the two recent emails that I sent out,” Saint Paul wrote late Tuesday.” I acted on miscommunication and misunderstanding. I regret my reaction and I misspoke.”
Saint Paul sent this and the other emails to influential Haitians in New York that were filled with a number of accusations, claims and defenses for potential misconduct.
“I will request a meeting with the authorities of Brooklyn College to inform them about my will to step down from the position of Director of the Haitian Studies Institute,” he wrote in an email to Bichotte on Sunday at 3 am. That email and the others were also sent to Dr. Theodore Fayette, Haitian Times founder Garry Pierre-Pierre and Haitian Leadership Forum Vice President Dr. Yvan Ducheine.
None of the people included in the email chain responded to repeated requests for comment. Saint Paul said he would only speak after board members of the institute meet on Friday.
Saint Paul gives a number of different reasons for wanting to step down from the institute. The message is filled mostly with petty squabbles and insular grievances about his standing within elite Haitian-American circles.
“The title of Director of the Institute has been an obstacle for me to advance my scholarship and teaching of quality; but I have accepted it because I know my integrity, and because I know that nowadays, we need more than ever persons (sic) like me to lead important institutions on Haiti,” he wrote.
In the email, Saint Paul claims that during a trip to Cuba, Ducheine was told by Bichotte that “Dr. Saint Paul could be a great scholar” but that she “heard rumors that possibly students have complained about Dr. Saint Paul’s sexual conduct.”
He repeatedly insulted Bichotte and called her “a liar” throughout the emails, yet he included a number of strange admissions and went out of his way to say he will resign due to the sexual misconduct claims.
“Yes, I know that I am a good looking person and that many women could be attracted by me; but I respect myself, I respect my wife for 19 years and I respect my students and institutions,” he wrote.
“Jean Eddy Saint Paul will not accept no one to mess up with him, when he is right. That’s why I have done my best to operate ethically in everything. Since 2016 to now, I have been living in a floor in a working-class neighborhood, I cannot even afford to buy a decent home in Brooklyn. Because of my position of Director of the Institute, I didn’t have time to enjoy my family. I don’t know well Manhattan.”
In response, Ducheine questioned why Saint Paul would send an email like this to so many people and why he was talking about so many personal issues or conflicts with this particular group.
“I am very concerned about your email below. It is an emotional document. Therein is contained many allegations, ‘He said, She said,’ and other matters that as professionals within the Haitian Community, we should strive to remain above,” Dr. Ducheine wrote.