Eric Dejaeger’s character not at issue: Nunavut judge

A Nunavut court judge has dismissed an application by Crown counsel that sought special permission to cross-examine Eric Dejaeger on the facts underlying his previous convictions.

A Nunavut court judge has dismissed an application by Crown counsel Doug Curliss that sought special permission to cross-examine Eric Dejaeger on the facts underlying his previous convictions.

The former Oblate priest, now 66-years-old, is now on trial in Iqaluit facing dozens of charges alleging sexual abuse against children in Igloolik three decades ago.

Curliss made an application to revisit Dejaeger’s convictions in court Monday. Dejaeger was convicted on charges of sexual assault in Baker Lake in 1989 and again in 1991.

In a written judgment issued this morning, Justice Robert Kilpatrick denied the application.

He pointed out that Canadian common law prevents Crown prosecutors from presenting evidence of bad character, “unless or until the defendant puts his or her character at issue.”

Crown counsel argued that that’s exactly what Dejaeger did during cross-examination in the courtroom on Jan. 21, when Dejaeger claimed he was “not a violent person.”

Kilpatrick, however, characterized the Crown's line of questioning as a "trap" that led Dejaeger to make a character claim.

"An accused does not put his or her character into issue in circumstances where he or she is tricked into doing so by inappropriate questions raised by the Crown in cross-examination,” Kilpatrick writes.

The judge also noted that Dejaeger’s first language is Flemish.

Crown applies to revisit testimony

In court Tuesday morning, Curliss made a second application, this time to revisit one complainant’s testimony.

In total more than 40 people have testified at Dejaeger's trial, mostly about alleged sexual acts involving young girls, boys and even dogs

One woman, now in her sixties, testified that Dejaeger raped her at the mission house in Pelly Bay, the community now known as Kugaaruk.

Prosecutor Curliss said that during the original testimony, Dejaeger's defence lawyer, Malcolm Kempt, accused a complainant of fabricating her story.

Kilpatrick has reserved his decision on this application until tomorrow.

The trial of the former Oblate priest is expected to wrap up this week.