A warmer day yesterday. No wind. It made a world of difference. As cold as it is was it almost felt balmy 🙂
Yesterday (Tuesday 03 December 2013) the sex abuse trial of Father Eric Dejaeger recessed for the day in early afternoon. Two female victims testified.
I have had issues getting things sorted out with net access during the day, – think that’s all in hand now so will be able to make use of the lunch hour tomorrow. Other commitments last evening kept me from the computer until evening. I have the testimony of one witness here – will finish tomorrow.
First, some general observations.
Yet again, with one exception, during testimony Father Dejaeger listens intently, and fixes his gaze on the witness, He occasionally strokes his beard, but for the most part sits with hands clasped under his chin.
I will come back to the one exception later when I touch on the testimony.
I mention Dejaeger’s demeanour during testimony – I saw another picture of the man when he was escorted into court after lunch this afternoon.
Dejaeger arrived at 1:28. Court was scheduled to resume at 1:30 pm.
First I must say that Dejaeger looks lithe and fit. He has obviously lost weight if we compare pictures from Belgium (ie, cheeks hollowed) – but he is by no means fading away, and, he moves with ease.
What I found particularly interesting was that the prisoner who sits there hour after hour with out expression was animated.
Dejaeger chitty-chatted with his lawyer. He had a few laughs. When his lawyer left for a brief moment he asked the clerk for a glass of water. There was some comment made, and – smiles and chuckles from Dejaeger.
Several times he actually turned hard around in his seat to survey who was sitting in the courtroom. We locked eyes..
Bold and shameless.
I don’t know if he was chewing gum, but he was chewing something.
Anyway, Dejeager just looked quite comfortable in there. He really did.
Now, on to the testimony of the two female witness, both of whom have received out of court settlements. And a warning: some of this is very graphic
It was a rough day in there today. Really really rough.
For the sake of reporting, I will call the first victim. witness Kayla.
Kayla, as did other witnesses, talked about going to religion classes at the Church in Igloolik every day after school. The children would play games such as checkers, colour, and help clean up in the church. Indeed, according to Kayla, when the priest asked they would wash up the dishes and do other things to help out.
At supper time the priests would share some food with them. After supper and after religion class they would get a drink of tea, and some crackers or biscuits.
Father Dejeager allowed the children to stay at the church as long as they wanted. Father Fournier would make them leave at 9 pm, but Father Dejaeger never told them they had to go home
I should say here that they all tend to refer to the church as “the mission” so, when they talk about going to the mission, or about what happened at the mission, they are talking about the two story church
Kayla’s family were regular church goers. When asked she testified that Father Dejaeger wore blue jeans and chequered shirts with snaps instead of buttons. By the sound of it Dejaeger vested for Mass, but at all other times he was in jeans and casual shirts.
That was all the fluff stuff. Important for various reasons for the record, but for the victim, relatively easy.
Now on to the nub of why Kayla was on the witness stand.
What happened? A seemingly simple question. Not for Kayla.
A complete break down.
Kayla cried. She wailed. She keened. She was in sheer agony.
A break. Kayla cried in the hallway. She cried in the little room across from the courtroom #2. We could hear her anguish. For a spell, she was inconsolable.
Kayla was back in the witness stand.
She was asked how old she was at the time?
Kayla: “I’m getting angry….” Sighing
Kayla was told by the judge to take her time. To take a few deep breaths. She was reassured that it would be over soon.
And she started
“Eric” called her upstairs. She thought he was going to give her something to do around the building. She was asked to go into the bedroom. She did. “I was so innocent.”
Dejaeger told her what to do. She took his belt off. He pulled his pants down to around his knees.
The priest told her to “play” with his penis.
At this point it is apparent that Kayla is reliving the scene, – she is struggling with her emotions.
She had never seen a penis like Dejaeger’s before, she said.
And then …
Wretching. Gagging. More wretching. Keening. Heaving,
A garbage can brought to the witness stand.
Still Kayla gagged and wretched and wretched and gagged.
And that was the one time to date that I saw something different on that blank face of Eric Dejaeger. A knit of the brow.
What did it mean? I have no idea at all, but I saw it. A knit of the brow – almost a frown.
And on the stand, poor dear Kayla. She was in a terrible terrible state.
When things resumed, Kayla continued.
Dejaeger grabbed her hand, she said. He put her hand on his penis. She didn’t know what to do. He was telling her what to do.
She did what the priest told her to do. Every time she tried to stop he’d grab her by the ear really hard and tell her to do it again. He’d tell her not to tell anyone. So she kept playing with it, and if she tried to stop, he grabbed her ear. His penis was getting big and hard.
He grabbed her other hand.
Tears. I think she’s reliving the horror again..
Kayla struggled on.
He told her to do it like this. She demonstrated.
Then white stuff started coming out on her hands. It was warm.
The priest told her to lick it. She refused.
He grabbed her by the ear: “Do it.”
She said no.
“Lick it. Do it.”
She didn’t know what it was. She was scared. She did it.
The gagging started again. And the wretching.
This time I personally understood what was happening. I understood the gagging and the wretching.
After that she never liked her hands. “I hate my hands” she said with disgust. She held up her hands to show the judge.
When she got home she tried to tell her mother, Her mother didn’t believe her. Her mother beat her, and told her she was just trying to make trouble.
She didn’t want to go to church anymore. She was forced to go. She was beaten when she didn’t want to go to church.
There was another incident.
She mentioned that Dejaeger used to call her “sis.”
She was colouring at the church one day. She went upstairs looking for her cousin(male). She went into a room – there was Dejaeger standing, and there was her cousin crying.
Dejaeger pulled up his,( Dejaegers) pants and he walked toward her. With one hand he grabbed her by the neck
He grabbed her by the neck. With one hand he gripped her by the neck and she “went up in the air.” He lifted her right off the ground. “Don’t ever come in this room,” she mimicked his snarled threat. I could see it. I could hear it.
Kayla and her cousin left. They didn’t say anything.
When she’d go to church and see him standing there at Mass, and think about him reading the Bible , and afterward him doing this…..
She received an out of court settlement. The lawyer Steven Cooper came to her in Igloolik. Kayla testified she was told she would receive $75,000. She received $16,000 one year. A year later she received $6,000. A year after that she received $6,000.
That was the essence of Kayla’s allegations. She testified that “Eric” had a big dog. The dog was brown, gray and black.
On cross-examination Mr. Kempt tried to paint Kayla as a liar. He referred to a statement given to police in which Kayla said she told her mother about the abuse at a later date. All I will say is it didn’t work. Kayla talked to her mother about the abuse twice. The first time was when it happened and she was beaten: the second time was after the residential school sex scandals broke and her mother found out two of her (HER MOTHERS) brothers and been sexually abused. The second time she told her mother everything, and how she had told her before and had been beaten for saying that Dejaeger had done those things to her.. That second time her mother listened and believed her.
Under cross-examination we heard that Kayla was sexually abused by a dentist when she was 14.. And that was it. It was over and Kayla could leave.
But, no. Kayla wasn’t finished. “I’d like to say something” she told the judge.
For a moment \I thought the judge was going to say no. But, he agreed.
Kayla turned to look at Dejaeger. “I’m not your sis.” I couldn’t catch the rest. Whatever it was, she had a chance to get it off her chest.
Once out of the room, Kayla broke down again. We could hear her. The anguish.
So much pain.
Quite a day yesterday. So many silver linings amidst the heartache. Spending time with some wonderful people. Learning so much about Iqaluit and Nunavut. Time is flying.
Enough for now,