Girl sexually assaulted by priest after seeking food: witness

The trial of Roman Catholic priest Eric Dejaeger entered its third day at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit this morning.

Eric Dejaeger on trial for dozens of sexual abuse charges dating to the 1970s and 80s

The trial of Eric Dejaeger, a 66-year-old Roman Catholic priest, entered its third day in Iqaluit this morning, with disturbing testimony from a woman who said Dejaeger used food to lure her into a sexual assault when she was eight years old. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Watson)

A witness testifying at the trial of Eric Dejaeger in Iqaluit told the court on Wednesday that the accused sexually assaulted her after she sought food at the church.

The 41-year-old woman said her family in Igloolik, Nunavut, was sometimes hungry for days at a time between 1978 and 1982, the years when Eric Dejaeger was the priest in the remote community.

The Roman Catholic priest, 66, is on trial for dozens of sexual abuse charges, relating to incidents alleged to have occurred while Dejaeger was in Igloolik.

Some shocking allegations have already been made in court this week, including alleged abuse against young girls, boys and animals.

The witness this morning testified that she was sexually assaulted numerous times by Dejaeger. She told the court how her grandmother, who was raising her, often sent her to the church for a meal.

The witness said that after one such meal, when she was eight years old, Dejaeger took her upstairs and raped her.

She says she was bleeding after the assault and Dejaeger took her into the bathroom to clean herself up, then spread garbage bags on his bedroom couch so she wouldn't stain it.

Catholic priest Eric Dejaeger leaves an Iqaluit, Nunavut, courtroom in 2011 after his first appearance for six child sexual abuse charges in Igloolik dating back to the 1970s. (Chris Windeyer/Canadian Press)

The witness says she told her grandmother about the assault, but she says the woman didn't believe her and beat her.

She says she stopped going to school after the assault so she didn't have to face Dejaeger during after-class Bible study.

The woman was shaking and crying as she testified and was allowed to sip pop in court to calm down. She continued her testimony and alleged she saw Dejaeger having sex with a dog.

Another time, she says she and a friend had to sit on Dejaeger's legs and fondle him.

While she tried to forget what happened, she says as an adult she would hit her kids when she thought of Dejaeger.

Another witness, the sixth of the trial, is expected to take the stand this afternoon.

With files from The Canadian Press