27 June 1991
BAKER LAKE, N.W.T. (CP)
The former Anglican minister of this central Arctic Inuit community has pleaded not guilty to four charges of sexual assault.
Rev. Armand Tagoona will appear in territorial court Aug. 28 for a preliminary hearing into charges he sexually assaulted two girls, both aged 14, between 1978 and 1984.
Meanwhile, Rev. Eric Jose Dejaeger, the disgraced Roman Catholic priest serving five years in a Manitoba prison for sexual assaults dating back to 1982 in Baker Lake, has been convicted and sentenced on two additional charges.
Northwest Territories Supreme Court Justice Ted Richard found Dejaeger guilty of sexually assaulting a 14‑year‑old girl and a 16‑year‑old boy three years ago.
Richard sentenced the priest to eight months concurrent and three months concurrent, meaning he will not spend any additional time in prison beyond his original five‑year term.
Dejaeger pleaded not guilty in April to five counts of sexual assault, but the Crown reduced the charges to two.
Baker Lake, in conjunction with the Roman Catholic church, has set up special counselling teams to deal with Dejaeger’s sexual assault victims.
The community of 1,100 people has been coping with an unprecedented series of sexual assault charges during the past two years.
Another 17 men ranging in age from young teenagers to senior citizens are also charged with sexual assault against a mentally disabled girl over a six‑year period.
Those trials have been tied up in procedural problems, since the girl, now 13, has been declared unfit to testify.
07 April 1990
BAKER LAKE, N.W.T. (CP)
From his prison cell in a snowbound Arctic police station, convicted sex offender Rev. Eric Jose Dejaeger receives a steady stream of visitors.
Police say former parishioners, friends and acquaintances in Baker Lake have come to say goodbye to the Roman Catholic priest, who was sentenced to five years in a federal penitentiary for nine sexual assault convictions.
Dejaeger, 42, pleaded guilty Thursday in Baker Lake Supreme Court to two counts each of sexual assault and indecent assault involving two young males, plus five sexual assaults against young females.
The offences occurred between 1982‑89 in the close‑knit Inuit community of 1,000 people, located about 500 kilometres north of the Manitoba border.
The thin, bearded priest served the town’s 100 Roman Catholic followers for seven years before he was arrested in August in Langley, B.C., following a lengthy police investigation.
David Hart, manager of the Hudson’s Bay store and a close friend of Dejaeger’s for 10 years, said the people of Baker Lake have been expecting the guilty plea.
“I guess the general feeling is he got what he deserved,” Hart said. “I think some people think it was a little light.
“I never suspected a thing at all. I was in total shock for several months after I found out he was going to plead guilty.”
Dejaeger’s superior, Bishop Reynald Rouleau, said his diocese is concentrating on setting up a support group to assist sexual assault victims in the community.
RCMP Cpl. Kim Melenchuk, the investigating officer in the Dejaeger case, said there were 20 sexual assaults reported in Baker Lake from January to November last year.
“For the size of the community, I’d say that’s quite a bit. The majority of our sexual assault cases are children,” he said.
April 6, 1990 18.14 EDT
BAKER LAKE, N.W.T. (CP)
A Roman Catholic priest has been sentenced to five years in prison on sexual assault charges.
Father Eric Dejaeger, 42, pleaded guilty to nine charges of sexual assaulting youths.
The offences occurred between 1983 and 1987 at Baker Lake, N.W.T., a remote Inuit community 600 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.
The Belgian-born priest was charged last August after a lengthy RCMP investigation.
24 August 1989
August 24, 1989 22.55 EDT
YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. (CP)
A Roman Catholic priest was remanded until Tuesday when he appeared in territorial court Thursday charged with seven counts of sexual assault.
Rev. Eric Dejaeger of Baker Lake, N.W.T., was arrested and charged recently by RCMP in Langley, B.C.
All charges involve minors and relate to incidents alleged to have taken place in Baker Lake during the last six years. A publication ban was issued prohibiting the publication of the victims’ names, but as the charges were quickly read aloud in court, both boys and girls were named. No details of the alleged assaults have been released.
The 42‑year‑old bearded priest will remain in custody until his next court appearance Tuesday. Dejaeger’s lawyer has asked for a 30‑day psychiatric evaulation of his client. The judge said he required evidence to suggest the evaluation was needed.
RCMP said Dejaeger has been a priest in Baker Lake for the last 10 years. About 1,000 people live in the remote community, located 600 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.
Bishop Denis Croteau, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mackenzie, was not available for comment on the charges. It is not known if Dejaeger will be relieved of parish duties pending the outcome of the charges.
Dejaeger is originally from Belgium and came to Canada in 1973.
The Catholic Church has been rocked in recent months with sexual assault charges laid against more than 30 priests and brothers in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Newfoundland.