Eric Dejaeger not an ‘evil monster:’ defence lawyer

In his closing argument Monday morning, defence lawyer Malcolm Kempt said many of the complainants against Eric Dejaeger are victims of hardships such as sexual abuse, suicide and substance abuse, but they are not victims of the former Oblate priest.

Eric Dejaeger’s defence lawyer argued Monday morning that the former Oblate priest is not guilty of most of the allegations against him.

Dejaeger, 67, is on trial for dozens of charges of sex offences against children dating back to his time in Igloolik, Nunavut three decades ago.

In his closing argument this morning, defence lawyer Malcolm Kempt said the Crown has painted Dejaeger as an "evil monster."

Kempt says his client is a sex offender and has admitted he touched eight boys in a sexual and inappropriate manner. He pleaded guilty to those charges in November.

But Kempt says Dejaeger is not guilty on the other counts.

More than 40 people testified during Dejaeger’s trial.

In almost all cases, Kempt says the court has only the testimony of the complainants to rely on.

He says there are many inconsistencies in their accounts from the 1970s and '80s in Igloolik.

Kempt suggests the complainants were influenced by outside forces, and were talking about the alleged abuse with one another.

He says the Crown and the police may also have “poisoned the well” of evidence.

Kempt says the Crown's case rests on vague, fragile, often conflicted childhood memories.

He says the complainants are vulnerable people with limited education, and many of them are truly victims of other hardships such as sexual abuse, suicide and substance abuse.

But he maintains they are not victims of Eric Dejaeger.

The closing arguments in the case are expected to conclude this week.