Roman Catholic priest Eric Dejaeger guilty of sex crimes against children

A decision has been reached in the 3 year long court case against Roman Catholic priest Eric DeJaeger.

Kent Driscoll 

APTN National News
A decision has been reached in the three year long court case against Roman Catholic priest Eric DeJaeger.

DeJaeger faced 68 charges, all alleged sex crimes against children from his time as a priest in Igloolik, NU between 1978 and 1982. He was acquitted on 44 of 68 outstanding charges, and convicted on 24.

DeJaeger had already entered a guilty plea for eight counts.

He will be back in the Nunavut Court of Justice for three days starting on January 19th 2015, for victim impact statements.

In his written decision, totaling 212 pages, Justice Robert Kilpatrick wrote, “Judges and juries do not possess divine insight into the soul of witnesses who testify in a legal proceeding. Decisions must be made on the basis of evidence alone, not intuition or guesswork. The criminal standard, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, is a high standard to achieve. The Crown must meet this standard with evidence that is both credible and reliable.

“The quantity and quality of the evidence available to the Court in this case has been substantially weakened by the passage of time. The reliability of the Crown’s evidence on many counts is suspect. This is reflected by the results of this trial.”

Justice Kilpatrick determined that there was a “specter of tainting or innocent contamination” on 46 of the counts. This was a major element of DeJaeger’s defense, with his lawyer pointing out that RCMP witness coordinators flew a number of potential witnesses to Iqaluit after DeJAeger’s expulsion from Belgium, with some of them meeting DeJaeger in jail. Those witnesses and complaints stayed in the same hotel, travelled together and did discuss the cases among themselves.”

DeJAeger’s flight from justice was also considered. Under the advice of his lawyer, he fled Canada for Belgium in 1993. He had been released form prison for similar offences committed in Baker Lake Nunavut. Kilpatrick found “no probative value” to his flight.

Crown attorneys and RCMP victim impact coordinators are now on their way to Igloolik Nunavut, to explain the verdict to the community.

DeJaeger has been in custody since January 2011. Since the charges pre-date changes to the Canadian Criminal Code about credit for time spent in remand, he will receive 2 for 1 credit for the time he has already served, meaning, he has already served 6 years of time in the court’s eyes, and any eventual sentence will reflect that.

The former priest was quiet in the courtroom today, and his lawyer participated by telephone, which is not uncommon in Nunavut’s Courts.

More to come.

@KentDriscoll

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