Dejaeger appears in Nunavut court, faces new charges
“The Crown expects charges to arise in a number of Canadian jurisdictions”
Crown prosecutors added three charges Jan. 24 to the list of allegations faced by fugitive Catholic priest Eric Dejaeger, and more charges could be coming.
Dejaeger faces two new counts of indecent assault in connection with events alleged to have taken place in Igloolik between September, 1978 and September 1980, and a charge of failing to appear for a June, 1995 court date on six other indecent assault charges.
Crown lawyer Paul Bychok told a Justice of the Peace in Iqaluit that even more charges against Dejaeger could emerge.
“The lay of the land has begun to shift,” he said. “The Crown expects charges to arise in a number of Canadian jurisdictions.”
Bychok also said the two new indecent assault charges were laid based on complaints that arose after Dejaeger’s court appearance on Jan. 20.
Mandy Sammurtok, the legal aid lawyer who’s been representing Dejaeger since he returned to Nunavut, said the accused has hired his own lawyer, who was to take over the case in time for Dejaeger’s next scheduled court appearance Jan. 27, when he plans to seek release on bail.
The Crown plans to oppose Dejaeger’s release.
Dejaeger returned to Nunavut Jan. 20 to face justice for the first time since fleeing prosecution for child sex charges in 1995. He faces six child sexual abuse charges dating back to his time as an Oblate missionary in Igloolik in the 1970s.
Dejaeger made his Jan. 20 appearance before a Justice of the Peace in an Iqaluit courtroom reluctantly, initially refusing to leave cells at the Iqaluit courthouse.
“He doesn’t wish to be brought up right now,” Sammurtok said.
But Bychok objected, saying it was not up to Dejaeger to decide whether to appear in court.
“We’re dealing with an indictable offence and he is expected in the courtroom,” Bychok said.
After a short delay, a haggard-looking Dejaeger entered the courtroom wearing blue jeans and a checked shirt. He was not wearing a belt or shoes.
Sammurtok also sought an order to have Dejaeger put into protective custody.
Justice of the Peace Bill Riddell said he didn’t have the power to issue such an order, but recommended the priest be given police protection. It wasn’t clear if Dejaeger was to be held in remand at Baffin Correctional Centre or the Iqaluit RCMP detachment.
Bychok also told court the RCMP are awaiting a report from Belgian authorities on Dejaeger’s activity in that country. Dejaeger, a Belgian-born Canadian citizen, had lived in Europe without a visa since 1997. Belgian authorities expelled him earlier this month over immigration issues.
Bychok said the Crown will need several weeks to prepare its case for a show-cause hearing to “check background information” in Canada and Belgium.
Dejaeger left Canada in 1995 after serving five years for convictions on nine counts of child sexual abuse in Baker Lake. He’d been wanted by Interpol since 2001.
The case falls under publication bans prohibiting the publication of evidence from the upcoming bail hearing and information that would identify any of Dejaeger’s alleged victims from Igloolik.
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