Former priest Eric Dejaeger finally gets lawyers
NEWS: Nunavut July 27, 2017 – 10:00 am
Newly assigned lawyers representing the convicted sex offender Eric Dejaeger, a former Oblate priest who lived in Baker Lake and Igloolik in the 1970s and 1980s, have begun the process of appealing some of his convictions, following a judge’s decision to direct legal aid to the former priest.
One of Dejaeger’s lawyers, Scott Cowan, told Justice Susan Cooper at Nunavut’s Court of Justice on July 26 that his office received the files from his client’s lengthy trial, which ended after almost a year in September 2014.
“This file has priority,” Cowan told Cooper.
Cooper set the next appearance on the matter to Nov. 15, when lawyers will update the court on their preparations.
Dejaeger is currently serving the remainder of his 11-year prison sentence at the medium-security Warkworth Institution in Ontario, and did not appear during the afternoon court proceeding.
On Sept. 12, 2014, Justice Robert Kilpatrick of the Nunavut Court of Justice convicted Dejaeger on 32 counts, most of them sex crimes against Inuit children in the 1970s and 1980s committed while he worked as a missionary in Igloolik.
Twenty-four of those convictions flowed from a long trial that ran from November 2013 to September 2014 and eight convictions flowed from guilty pleas that Dejaeger entered at the start of the trial.
On Feb. 4, 2015, Kilpatrick sentenced him to 19 years in jail, which means that with time already served, he must serve another 11 years.
In September 2015, Dejaeger plead guilty to four additional sex crimes committed against three Edmonton-area children in the 1970s, earning four additional five-year sentences to be served concurrently.
Dejaeger filed paperwork challenging six of his convictions later in 2015, but it was unclear in the filings which convictions he was appealing.
Nunavut Chief Justice Neil Sharkey directed a court-appointed lawyer to assist Dejaeger in his appeal process last March after legal aid originally turned him down.
“The Crown understands that this is a complicated appeal, we’re happy there’s now counsel assigned,” Crown lawyer Christian Lyons told Cooper.
The court will be provided with a “meaningful update” at the next appearance in November, Cowan added.