What a beautiful spot! I had always thought Iqaluit was flat and barren, Not flat at all – it’s hilly and rocky – and today, windy, windy and oh so COLD. Thankfully I bought a good pair of boots on Sunday – my toes are warm 🙂
So, landed safe and sound – luggage put away and then myself and friend headed for the courthouse and arrived in time for the afternoon session.
And there he was. Convicted Oblate clerical molester Father Eric Dejaeger, sitting at the defence table. Long straggly gray beard. Balding. Navy sweat shirt, sweatpants and canvas (?) navy shoes.
I’m not sure what I expected, but, there he was. In flesh and blood.
The courtroom layout is quite different here in Nunavut. I would love to take a picture to post for all to see, but, not allowed 🙁 The witness stand faces the judge – I am told that is because Inuit believe that they look a person in the eye that person can not lie. I was struck by that particular change in layout, and the reason for the change.
Father Eric Dejaeger barely took his eyes off the witnesses. He stared intently, rarely ever breaking his gaze. I spotted him stroking his beard a couple of times, but most of the time he rested his chin on clasped hands, occasionally chewing at a thumb nail or fiddling with his fingers.
There was not testimony about dogs. The court was told that there was a black and white husky at the church.
There were two victims. The first victim (I’ll call him Joe) had a hearing impediment but with some auditory assistance testified in Inuktitut and I must say did a darn good job ( testimony was translated) .
(1) Victim #1
Joe testified that he was molested several times by Dejaeger. He was molested several times when he was taken caribou hunting with his parents, and uncle and Father Dejaeger, There were three tents pitched. Dejaeger has a tent of his own, According to Joe the most painful thing that ever happened to him was when Father Dejaeger molested him. He described how Dejaeger played with his anus, looked in his anus, and then wet his fingers in his mouth and stuck them in the boy’s rectum. That happened twice. he recalled that Dejaeger had very cold hands. It came to an end when he had a bowel movement.
When asked by the Crown how long did the abuse last, he replied that he had no idea ‘time was not very important to me then.” It was said in the sense that that was the last thing he was thinking of at the time.
We also heard testimony that Dejaeger would masturbate Joe. Joe described how Dejager wold pull his pants down to his knees. These acts came to an end when Joe pushed Dejaeger away.
The priest told the boy not to tell, and warned that because Dejaeger, was a priest and God’s helper no one would believe him.
There was an out-of court settlement. According to Joe the lawyer, Steven Cooper, told him he would receive $100,000: he was given $17,000. Joe testified that he was told by the lawyer not to discuss what happened with anyone.
We also heard that Joe told and RCMP officer in 1984 or 1985. He was told that he shouldn’t say something like that about a priest.
During cross examination Joe began to get agitated, but he maintained his composure.
(2) Victim #2
The second victim I will call Jack.
According to Jack, in one move one day Dejaeger grabbed him by the hand, put the other arm around his waist and hand on his bottom and started to dance. As he stood to describe how Dejaeger grabbed him he raised his voice and said “this, from a priest,” At that he turned to Dejeager and admonished: “Your were a hypocrite Eric.”
When Jack’s grandmother was told, she advised he not to go back
We heard that the children were at the church everyday at 3:45 for religious instruction, and that every Sunday evening there was a movie shown at the church (reel to reel). For the latter, a white sheet was hung behind the altar to serve as a screen.. Jack testified that he saw every movie, and, by way of explanation “it was free”!
When he was told he was finished and free to go, Jack asked the judge if he could say a word or two. Mr, Kempt was opposed. The judge said go ahead,
And Jack’s message?
Jack turned to face Dejaeger (sitting to right). In a clear measured voice, and eyes of Father Dejaeger he told Dejaeger:
You used call everyone a turkey, I was a turkey to you. All the boys were turkeys to you. And you, you are the real turkey.
At that he turned and left the stand.
Enough for now,