Nunavut RCMP charge former Catholic priest in connection with historical sexual assaults

Eric Dejaeger

Former priest Eric Dejaeger was arrested in Kingston, Ont. Photo: APTN

A defrocked priest and convicted sex offender is facing new charges of sexually assaulting children in Nunavut.

Nunavut RCMP said in a news release that Eric Dejaeger, formerly of Belgium, was arrested by police in Kingston, Ont., southwest of Toronto, on Wednesday.

RCMP said Dejaeger is charged with eight counts of historical sexual assault.

The 76-year-old was living in Kingston, the RCMP added in the release.

Dejaeger was released early from his 19-year prison sentence on June 6, 2022 under what’s known as statutory release, which is similar to parole and allows offenders to reintegrate into society under supervision before their sentence expires.

READ MORE: APTN News’ Eric Dejaeger archives

Dejaeger was convicted in 2015 for 24 sex crimes against Inuit youth from his time as a parish priest in Igloolik, Nvt., between 1978 and 1982. The offences included indecent assault, unlawful confinement, buggery, unlawful sexual intercourse and bestiality (a dog).

The majority of more than 25 victims were between the ages of nine and 13. Two of the victims were adults and the youngest was five or six.

Dejaeger first arrived in the northern territory as a missionary with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He became a Canadian citizen in 1977 and was ordained the following year.

Before his trial for the Igloolik crimes, Dejaeger served part of a five-year sentence for sex charges stemming from a posting in Baker Lake, Nvt., between 1982 and 1989.

After his release in 1991, Dejaeger learned the RCMP were investigating his activities in Igloolik. He fled to Belgium before facing trial on those charges.

Belgium ultimately deported him to Canada to face trial.

Iqaluit RCMP said in their release Wednesday that a Canada-wide warrant was issued for Dejaeger, who was defrocked as a priest in 2011, on June 7  on eight counts of sexual assault stemming from investigations conducted between 2011 and 2015.

They said he was to be transported to Iqaluit to appear before the Nunavut Court of Justice.

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