Priest returning to Nunavut to face sex charges
A missionary priest who fled Canada more than 15 years ago after being accused of sex crimes against Inuit children is expected to return to face the charges against him as early as this week.
RCMP confirm that Rev. Eric Dejaeger is being expelled from Belgium and will be sent to Iqaluit, Nunavut, where he will be immediately taken into custody.
"Once he arrives in Canada, the RCMP will escort Dejaeger up to the Nunavut courthouse," Const. Lucy Shorey said Tuesday. "The court date will be determined by the Nunavut justice."
Shorey said for security reasons, police will not release the time and place of Dejaeger's arrival. However, Belgian media are reporting Dejaeger is expected to board a plane on Wednesday for Montreal.
Dejaeger, who was originally Belgian but lost that status when he became a Canadian citizen, remains wanted in Canada on warrants issued in 2002 for sex crimes that are alleged to have happened 30 years ago in Igloolik, Nunavut.
Dejaeger, 63, has been living in Belgium for years — far longer than the legal limit of three months for Canadians without a visa.
The former Arctic missionary, who appeared on Interpol's international wanted list, is being held in a detention centre for illegal residents in Bruges, Belgium. He is being expelled from that country for immigration violations, not at Canada's request.
Dejaeger came to Canada from Belgium in 1973. He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest of the Oblate order and eventually began work as a missionary in the Arctic, where he served in several communities.
According to court documents, Dejaeger pleaded guilty in 1990 to nine counts of sex crimes against boys and girls in Baker Lake, a small Inuit community in the central barrens of what is now Nunavut.
The crimes, committed between 1982 and 1989, involved inappropriate touching to the rape of two boys who occasionally slept overnight at the mission residence. One boy was victimized by Dejaeger from the time he was 10 years old until he was 17.
Dejaeger was sentenced to five years in prison for those offences.
But in 2002, another warrant was issued for Dejaeger's arrest, this time for sex crimes against children alleged to have occurred between 1978 and 1982 in Igloolik on the northwest tip of Hudson Bay. By that time, however, Dejaeger had left Canada.
According to Belgian media, he has been living in an Oblate monastery and has worked in the Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes, France, where he received Flemish pilgrims.