Hollant Maxford Adrien, also known as Professor Max Adrien, garnered attention from national media outlets following that massive earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people on Jan. 12, 2010, in his native Haiti.
A French professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., at the time, Adrien found a way he could help — doing what he did best, according to the university.
“If I go there, I cannot heal. I cannot help in that capacity,” Adrien told the university at the time. “Haiti is part of my heart, and I think right now the best way I can help is through donations and through my work as a teacher.”
It was then that Adrien began teaching his informal classes in Creole, teaching his native language to many volunteer workers who were planning trips to Haiti to help in the relief effort.
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“There is no better way that I can help Haiti then to use what I know,” Adrien said. “What I can give people is a connection to the Haitian people.”
But just one day before the seven-year anniversary of the earthquake that ravaged his homeland, Adrien was found at the intersection of 58th Avenue East and 21st Street East. There was trauma to his body, and now detectives with the Manatee Homicide Investigative Unit are following clues to piece together why he was killed and who is responsible.
The intersection where his body was found Wednesday morning was at a dead-end behind an industrial park, near a wooded area.
No arrests have been made in the case. The sheriff’s office has not identified any suspects or people of interest.
Initially, investigators were unable to identify Adrien, 56, of Sarasota, but eventually they were able to Wednesday evening. His identity was withheld, however, because detectives had been unable to locate next of kin in Florida.
Adrian had moved to Sarasota, where he had no family or friends that law enforcement could locate, after facing troubled times, according to sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow.
After his time at Hamline, Adrien went on to teach at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, during which time he would be accused in the sexual assault of three young men in Springfield, according to Associated Press reports.
Adrien was arrested on Oct. 23, 2011, but the charges in two of the three cases were later dropped — one because he had not been living in Ohio at the time of the alleged 2010 assault and the other over credibility issues involving the accuser, who admitted lying to police about part of his story.
On Dec. 10, 2012, after working at Wittenberg as a French professor for about a year, the university fired Adrien before he had stood trial.
Adrien would stand trial in February 2013 for the alleged August 2012 rape and kidnapping of a 19-year-old developmentally disabled man.
The teen had told police that a man approached him in a car as he was walking, threatened to shoot him before driving him to a park and raping him. Adrien was identified as the attacker by the teen in a lineup, according to police at the time.
But at trial, Adrien testified that he and the teen had consensual sex in a car, and he hadn’t realized that the teen was developmentally disabled, adding he thought the teen “just talked funny.”
Adrien was found not guilty, and Clark County Judge Douglas Rastatter ruled that the evidence and testimony in the case weren’t convincing.
In November of that year, Adrien filed federal civil rights lawsuits against Wittenberg University, the police and six media outlets, claiming that the allegations had “defamed and destroyed” his personal and professional life. Adrien also claimed he had been unjustly fired before being found not guilty.
Adrien had also claimed he had been treated differently based on his race, because he was gay and because of his national origin.
Anyone with information about this case can call the sheriff’s office at 941-747-3011, ext. 2519, or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, contact Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS or submit an e-tip at manateecrimestoppers.com.