Nunavut court postpones Dejaeger indictment until Sept. 10
Crown awaits final disclosure of evidence from police
Father Eric Dejaeger will wait until Sept. 10 before he stands before a judge for a possible arraignment on 77 charges, mostly sex offences involving children.
The Oblate missionary was a no-show at his latest court date July 16, when an arraignment was supposed to have held.
That was put over so Crown prosecutors can consolidate all charges into a single indictment.
But Crown prosecutor Paul Bychok does not yet know if a trial date can be set at Dejaeger’s next appearance, or if all charges laid against Dejaeger will be read.
“From now until Sept. 10, we’re hoping the police will provide us with the final disclosure, and once we receive it, we will start to work our way through it. It’s quite painstaking as you can imagine,” Bychok said.
The final disclosure package will contain all statements from all witnesses identified by police investigations. Then the prosecutors sift through the evidence provided by the police.
So far there are 40 complainants alleging various sexual abuse charges against children, and one count of bestiality.
“Theoretically we could be up to 400 witnesses. But there’s no way of knowing until we get the final disclosure package,” said Bychok.
“It’s a big task. As I mentioned to the judge, the draft is prepared. We have to review all the fruit of the investigation that the police give us before we can finalize [the indictment].
To help with the workload, an outside Crown prosecutor from Saskatoon is being brought in to help.
“It’s not unusual for prosecution services to make sure we have adequate staff. It’s up to 40 complainants, so we want to make sure we have adequate resources assigned to it,” said Bychok.
There have been no new charges laid against Dejaeger since his last court appearance May 14.
Justice Robert Kilpatrick is now requiring Dejaeger to start appearing in court from now on, however that can be cancelled at the discretion of the defence.
Dejaeger, a native of Belgium who gave up his Belgian citizenship to become a Canadian citizen in the 1970s, studied at Newman Theological College in Edmonton and became a Roman Catholic priest.
Once ordained, he moved to Igloolik and lived there from 1978 to about 1982. He then left for Baker Lake, and stayed there until about 1989.
In 1990, he pled guilty to nine sex offences related to his stay in Baker Lake, and served time in prison until 1995.
After more charges were laid against him — this time six alleged offences from his time spent in Igloolik — he fled to Belgium and missed a court date in July 1995.
More charges were laid through the Nunavut court in 1995 and 2002, and Interpol issued a series of international warrants for his arrest.
Dejaeger spent time in Belgium until a Belgium newspaper exposed his past and he was arrested in 2011.
The Belgium government, then discovering Dejaeger was not a citizen of their country, elected to deport him in January of 2011. He is now held in custody.