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Convicted priest charged with sex offences more than 35 years ago in Edmonton

Posted by on 21/09/2019

EDMONTON – A Catholic priest awaiting trial on sex-related offences in the Arctic is being transferred to Edmonton to face more charges.

Edmonton police allege Father Eric Dejaeger, now 64, abused a youth in the city between 1975 and 1978. He is charged with indecent assault and gross indecency.

Police Det. Barb Clover would not give details on the offence, but said Dejaeger was in a position of trust over the young person. The person, now an adult, contacted police in April.

Clover said Dejaeger faces charges in relation to about 30 people in Nunavut, so it’s a possibility there are more complainants in Edmonton.

“We do urge them to come forward if that’s what they’d like to do,” she said.

Dejaeger was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1978 after he finished studying at Edmonton’s Newman Theological College. He then went north.

In 1990, while in the community of Baker Lake, Nunavut, he pleaded guilty to nine sex offences relating to boys and girls aged nine to 18. He served part of a five-year sentence, then went home to Belgium.

Mounties charged him in 1995 him with more sex offences relating to previous time he spent as a priest in Igloolik. But it took years to arrest him.

The RCMP and Interpol issued various warrants, but Dejaeger continued living quietly in an Oblate community in Belgium. Years later, a Belgian newspaper published a story that he was a wanted man. He was expelled from the country on immigration violations and returned to Canada last January.

He has been held at the Baffin Correctional Centre in Nunavut and awaits a preliminary hearing there next February on the dozens of outstanding sex offences that allegedly occurred in Igloolik between 1978 and 1982.

The Catholic church earlier confirmed that it reached out-of-court settlements with at least 30 of the alleged victims in Igloolik. The settlements involve allegations not tested in court.

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