Pedophile ex-priest a two-time loser at Nunavut appeal court
Eric Dejaeger loses appeal of sentence, appeal of sex crime convictions
The notorious serial pedophile, ex-Nunavut priest Erik Dejaeger, is now a two-time loser at the Nunavut Court of Appeal.
That’s because of two written judgments that the appeal court released on Monday, Nov. 26: one says no to 70-year-old Dejaeger’s appeal of a 19-year prison sentence, while the other says no to his appeal on 24 convictions for sex crimes against Inuit children, most of them in Igloolik.
After a hearing in Iqaluit this past Sept. 25, a panel of three appeal court judges orally dismissed Dejaeger’s appeal on 24 convictions that Justice Robert Kilpatrick entered against him on Aug. 12, 2014, following a long trial that began in November 2013.
Dejaeger had also appealed Kilpatrick’s findings of fact in eight additional charges to which Dejaeger had pleaded guilty.
The Nunavut appeal court released its written reasons for that decision on the verdict appeal today.
In their judgment, the appeal court found that Kilpatrick, in his massive 212-page trial decision, had carefully considered the evidence in each of the original 80 counts that Dejaeger faced and found that Kilpatrick gave reasons that are “clear, comprehensible and sufficient.”
The appeal court also rejected Dejaeger’s claim that Kilpatrick did not properly interpret testimony that Dejaeger gave in his own defence, and rejected Dejaeger’s claim that Kilpatrick had admitted certain evidence that should have been declared inadmissible.
This means Dejaeger’s convictions on the following crimes still stand:
• Three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse
• Ten counts of indecent assault on a female
• Five counts of indecent assault on a male
• Three counts of buggery on a male
• One count of bestiality
• One count of sexual assault on a female
• One count of unlawful confinement
In the other judgment, which the appeal court had reserved until this month, they found the 19-year prison sentence that Kilpatrick imposed on Dejaeger in January 2015 is “fit and proper.”
“He was a wolf masquerading as a good shepherd. His life as a priest was a lie,” Kilpatrick, then the senior judge of the Nunavut court, said in his January 2015 decision, which sentenced Dejaeger on 32 convictions: the 24 charges Dejaeger had been found guilty of after the trial, plus the eight he pleaded guilty to.
In it, Kilpatrick settled on the 19-year “global” sentence after whittling it down from a 75-year-plus sentence that could have been imposed by simply adding up all the appropriate penalties.
After that, he gave Dejaeger about eight years credit for time already served, which meant the ex-priest had about 11 years left in prison.
But Dejaeger’s lawyer argued that his client should have got at least a five-year reduction to account for an earlier five-year sentence he had served for crimes committed against Inuit children in Baker Lake in the mid-to-late 1980s.
The Igloolik crimes, though prosecuted much later, had been committed earlier, between 1978 and 1982.
That meant Kilpatrick had to sentence Dejaeger on the Igloolik convictions as if he were a first-time offender.
But he was also sentenced for the Baker Lake convictions as a first-time offender, the appeal court said.
“If we were to accept his argument that the Baker Lake sentence should serve to reduce his sentence for his Igloolik offences, he would receive a benefit which could well result in an unfit sentence,” their judgment said.
And they also rejected the idea that Dejaeger should have received a lighter sentence because of the absence of any criminal convictions after 1992.
That’s because, in 1995, after being charged with eight new crimes he committed in Igloolik, Dejaeger fled Canada for Belgium, the country of his birth, an act that broke the law in several ways.
In Belgium, he remained unlawfully at large for 17 years, ignoring a series of Interpol arrest warrants and enjoying the protection of the Oblate order of Roman Catholic priests.
“We further observe that Mr. Dejaeger can hardly be considered to have been living a crime-free life back in Belgium during that period, considering that he was unlawfully at large, in breach of both his parole and bail conditions in Canada and was the subject of extradition proceedings,” the appeal court found.
Dejaeger was forcibly returned to Canada in 2011, after the Belgian government discovered that Dejaeger was not a Belgian citizen and expelled him from their country.
That’s because Dejaeger had renounced his Belgian citizenship many years earlier and had become a Canadian citizen.
R v Dejaeger, 2018 NUCA 07 by on Scribd
R v Dejaeger, 2018 NUCA 06 by on Scribd