Ex-priest loses appeal for 19-year sentence in Igloolik sex-abuse case
Eric Dejaeger appealed conviction on 24 counts related to sexual abuse in Igloolik between 1978 and 1982
The Nunavut Court of Appeal has dismissed another appeal from ex-priest Eric Dejaeger, who was convicted of 24 counts related to the sexual abuse of Inuit youth and one adult woman during his time with the Roman Catholic mission in Igloolik more than 40 years ago.
In September, the court did not grant Dejaeger a new trial after he appealed his conviction. This time, the court also threw out an appeal for his 19-year sentence.
Dejaeger's conviction included three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, 10 counts of indecent assault on a female, five counts of indecent assault on a male, three counts of buggery on a male, one count of bestiality, one count of sexual assault on a female and one count of unlawful confinement.
In 2015, Dejaeger was sentenced for 32 counts out of the 80 he was charged with. He pleaded guilty to eight counts, and not guilty to 24. He was sentenced to 19 years, but with time served that number was pared down to eight.
Dejaeger appealed the sentence, arguing the judge erred by not taking into consideration a previous sentence for his conviction for similar crimes he committed in Baker Lake. In the early 1990s, Dejaeger was sentenced to five years for crimes he committed against children in that community.
Dejaeger argued an absence of criminal convictions since his release from prison in 1992 from the Baker Lake charges shows a capacity for rehabilitation. He said that should have been taken into account in the sentencing for his Igloolik convictions.
The appeal judges dismissed this argument, pointing out Dejaeger was living in Belgium, in breach of parole, unlawfully at large and the subject of extradition proceedings during this period.
"It was not possible for the trial judge to conclude that he was capable of being rehabilitated in the face of evidence of a complete lack of remorse and the illegality of his flight from Canada," states the decision.
Dejaeger argued Nunavut Judge Robert Kilpatrick erred in three areas related to what evidence was accepted and how that evidence was applied. His appeal was heard on Sept. 25.
In a six-page Nunavut Court of Appeals decision dated Nov. 22, three judges dismissed the appeal, finding "the trial judge carefully considered the evidence in the context of each of the 80 counts before him and that his reasons are clear, comprehensible and sufficient."
The 71-year-old was eligible to apply for parole as of Sept. 30.
Dejaeger is currently incarcerated in Warkworth Institution, a medium-security federal prison near Campbellford, Ont.