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Defrocked priest to be jailed for sexual assaults on children

By Marcus Hondro     Jan 22, 2015 in Crime
A defrocked priest found guilty of 32 counts of sexually abusing Inuit children between the years 1978 and 1982 apologized in a courtroom at his sentencing hearing today. As he did so, dozens of victims and members of their families cried out.
Threatened children for sex
Eric Dejaeger, 67, and in poor health, committed offences against boys and girls, mostly between the ages of 8 and 12, but for some the abuse started when they were but four years old. He was appearing Thursday in an Iqaluit, Nunavut courtroom.
From Belgium, when he committed the offences Dejaeger was an Oblate missionary in Igloolik, Nunavut. His crimes were horrific and cruel, including threatening children with fire and brimstone if they did not perform sexual acts. There was testimony of the former priest offering food to hungry children for sex, even dangling food in front of them.
"I can only take responsibility for what I have done," he told the judge. "I would like to ask for forgiveness. I promise not to re-offend. And that's not just words."
Justice Robert Kilpatrick heard from Crown prosecutor Doug Curliss, who is asking for a 25-year sentence, with eight years off for time served. Curliss said Dejaeger "appears to have no insight into why he offended and he didn't stop until he got caught."
The defense has asked for a 12-year sentence, of which four would be served. Justice Kilpatrick will provide a written sentence sometime in February.
Multiple sex assaults on children
This is not the first crime for which Dejaeger has been convicted. He served five years in the 90s when convicted on 11 counts of sexually assaulting children in Baker Lake, Nunavut. After completing that sentence he fled to Belgium but was eventually extradited back. Further, he still has a court case in Edmonton in which he is accused of assaulting four children.
His lawyer said Dejaeger has cancer and a heart condition and is afraid to die in prison and so hopes for only four more years behind bars. Kent Driscoll of the Canadian Press wrote that after the hearing it was a somber group that filed out of the courtroom, with two people hugging as others left around them.
"One victim and his wife embraced in the middle of the room, motionless," Mr. Driscoll wrote. "She holding him up as everyone filed out around them."
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