PORTLAND, Maine — An appellate judge in Boston on Wednesday ordered a federal judge in Maine to determine whether a $14.5 million defamation judgment awarded last year to the head of orphanages in Haiti and an affiliated charity should be set aside because the court does not have jurisdiction in that country.

The Constitution states that civil lawsuits may not be heard in federal courts if one of the parties does not live in the United States, according to the defendant in the case.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock has scheduled a hearing on the issue for March 30 in federal court in Portland.

Because the jurisdictional issue was not raised before trial, the appellate court sent it back to Woodcock to decide.

After Woodcock rules in the case, it will return to the 1st Circuit.

Attorneys for Paul Kendrick, 66, of Freeport, an advocate for children sexually abused by clergy, in January appealed the verdict and monetary judgment to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Former Catholic brother Michael Geilenfeld, 63, of Port-au-Prince Haiti and the nonprofit Hearts with Haiti, sued Kendrick in 2013 for a campaign the Maine man launched against Geilenfeld and the North Carolina-based nonprofit for which he worked in 2011. Kendrick alleged Geilenfeld sexually abused children he had taken in at an orphanage in Haiti and that the nonprofit had turned a blind eye, according to a previously published report.

After hearing testimony, including from seven men who alleged they were sexually abused by Geilenfeld in the 1990s, a jury in July awarded damages of $7.5 million to Hearts with Haiti and $7 million to Geilenfeld.

In the appeal, attorneys for Kendrick argued the federal court in Maine did not have jurisdiction to consider the case because even though Geilenfeld is a U.S. citizen, he has lived in Haiti since 1985. The U.S. Supreme Court has established that its jurisdiction does not extend to U.S. citizens living abroad, the appeal said.

Geilenfeld’s attorney disputed that claim in the 1st Circuit, arguing Geilenfeld lived in his native Iowa when the lawsuit was filed.

Hearts With Haiti should be dismissed from the lawsuit because Geilenfeld’s testimony gave the nonprofit “a significant tactical advantage” it would not have had if he had not been a party to the lawsuit and had not taken the stand, the appeal argued.

Geilenfeld was imprisoned for 237 days in Haiti in 2014 during the investigation of claims of sexual abuse, according to previous reports. A Haitian judge decided not to prosecute Geilenfeld, and he was released.

The Associated Press reported in November that police in Haiti have continued to investigate the accusations against Geilenfeld, shutting down the St. Joseph Home for Boys on Nov. 5 and seeking to detain Geilenfeld.

BDN writer Darren Fishell contributed to this report.