Content warning: The following article contains reference to sexual assault, sex crimes against children, and sex crimes within the church, and may therefore be disturbing for some readers.
Defrocked oblate priest Eric Dejaeger, previously convicted of numerous sexual crimes against Inuit children in Nunavut, was arrested again in Kingston, Ontario on June 7, and is facing eight new charges for crimes he allegedly committed during his time in the territory.
The 76-year-old, who was born in Belgium and became a Canadian citizen in 1977, was arrested on a nationwide warrant, Iqaluit RCMP said in a news release, and will be moved to Iqaluit to appear before the Nunavut Court of Justice.
The new charges he faces relate to investigations conducted from 2011 to 2015, police said, but no specifics in terms of where or when the alleged incidents occurred have been revealed.
Dejaeger has been convicted on dozens of sexual offences over the years, most of which involve young children. Some involve adults and animals.
In 1990, he began a five-year prison sentence for sexual crimes against children, committed between 1982 in 1989 in the community of Baker Lake. However, he was released early in 1992, and later fled to Belgium when RCMP began investigating his history in the community of Iglulik.
In 2011, he was extradited back to Canada, and in 2015, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for 32 crimes committed in Iglulik, including unlawful confinement and bestiality. Later that year, he was sentenced to three additional five-year sentences for sex crimes against children in Alberta. His sentences were to be served concurrently.
He appealed the Iglulik sentence in 2018, but his appeal, which was based partly on claims of good behaviour since his 1992 release from prison, was emphatically dismissed.
“Mr. Dejaeger can hardly be considered to have been living a crime-free life back in Belgium during that period, considering that he was unlawfully at large, in breach of both his parole and bail conditions in Canada and was the subject of extradition proceedings,” judges stated at the time.
“The harm inflicted by him, together with the scale and scope of his crimes against vulnerable children in Iglulik must be assessed in determining that this sentence was both proportional to the offender and to the offences he committed. His convictions are almost all for major sexual assaults on both young girls and young boys.”
“Many of his victims have suffered resulting trust issues for their entire lifetimes, leading to addiction issues, violence in their own domestic relationships and continuing emotional consequences.”
Dejaeger was granted statutory release in May of 2022, with a parole that included a litany of conditions.
Kingstonist has requested information from Kingston Police regarding whether the local police force was aware Dejaeger was living in Kingston, was involved in his arrest, or has reason to believe Dejaeger committed any offences while in Kingston. Kingston Police did not respond by time of publication (5:35 p.m. on Thursday, Jun. 8, 2023).
Tom Taylor is a Nunavut-based reporter with the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI).