Court grants bail to priest charged in sex assaults

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Edmonton Journal

30 August 1989

LAURIE SARKADI Journal Northern Bureau

YELLOWKNIFE — After spending one week in prison, a Roman Catholic priest facing seven counts of sexual assault was granted freedom from custody Tuesday in territorial court.

His eyes swollen and his face sallow, Father Eric Dejaeger of Baker Lake, N.W.T., stared blankly during his bail hearing as the Crown prosecutor outlined nine conditions for his release.

The bearded, 42-year-old Arctic priest is to appear Nov. 15 in Baker Lake, 600 km northeast of Yellowknife, for a preliminary hearing. He has elected trial by judge and jury.

The defence and Crown counsels mutually agreed under the terms of his release that the Belgian-born priest not be allowed to associate in private with children under age 18 unless accompanied by an adult.

He is also required to deposit his Canadian and Belgian passports with the Yellowknife RCMP and must remain at the House of Growth Roman Catholic retreat in Milner Ridge, Man., until his next court appearance.

On top of Dejaeger personally posting a $10,000 cash deposit, the Order of the Oblates Marie Immaculate, known largely as a missionary congregation, in St. Boniface, Man., must provide a $75,000 cash bond.

Once in Manitoba, Dejaeger is to report weekly to the RCMP and comply with the directions of his church superior.

Other terms include keeping the peace and being of good behavior, with an assurance he will return to court as directed.

Territorial court Judge Michel Bourassa ordered a ban on publication of evidence and publication of statements from both counsels at the request of defence lawyer Alan Regel.

An earlier publication ban restricted the media from reporting any evidence which may reveal identities of the alleged victims.

Following a lengthy investigation by Yellowknife RCMP, Dejaeger was arrested Aug. 21 in Langley, B.C., where he was studying linguistics.

His charges stem from incidents alleged to have happened during the past decade in the closeknit, predominantly Inuit community of Baker Lake.

Dejaeger’s lawyers had earlier requested the priest be allowed a psychiatric evaluation before any further court proceedings.

10 Responses to Court grants bail to priest charged in sex assaults

  1. 1yellowknife says:

    To answer your question, Sylvia: This is from the Laurie Sarcadie report: ”He is also required to deposit his Canadian and Belgian passports with the Yellowknife RCMP and must remain at the House of Growth Roman Catholic retreat in Milner Ridge, Man., until his next court appearance.”

    I am interested to see that the Canadian Oblates paid the $75,000 bail. Hope the folks now pursuing legal action take note. They took responsibility for him then; they can do so again now. Did they lose the $75,000 when he took off for Belgium..

  2. Sylvia says:

    Yes 1yellowknife, but that was in 1989 – his first round of charges. It was 1995 that he hopped a plane a skipped the country – after he had done whatever time behind bars for the first two sets of charges (concurrent sentences). So, his passports were ‘seized’ in 1989, but obviously not in 1995. And, my question is, why not? He could never have made it out of the country without a passport.

    And, the same for the bail. That again was 1989.

    I don’t know if was out on bail in 1995? I have nothing which shows that he was. But, if he was on bail, true enough, did whoever put up up the bail – probably the Oblates – lose it?

    And all this raises raises another question: If he didn’t have to post bail in 1995, why not?

  3. Lieve Halsberghe says:

    The Belgian passport that Dejaeger possessed a in 1989 was absolutely invalid, since he automatically LOST his Belgian nationality in 1977, when he obtained the Canadian citizenship.
    According to my documents, a bail in 1995 is not mentioned. So probably there was none. The Oblates are not likely to “loose” their money like that.
    If they took away his passport(s) before the trial, then they must have returned them to him after the end of his parole, in April 1995.
    It is surprising that no one at the Belgan consulate or embassy in Canada ever looked into the matter. If they did and inform the Belgian authorities, then the question is : why nothing happened? It is a smelly afair.

  4. John says:

    Lieve…..Welcome to the heart of darkness!!!!


  5. Michel B. says:

    Everybody is equal but some are more equal than others Orwell…uh..

  6. Sylvia says:

    I am trying to find out if Dejaeger was on bail in 1995. I thought I could call the courthouse in Yellowknife and get some answers, but, not so. I will keep working at it 🙂

  7. 1yellowknife says:

    Sylvia: I will go to the Yellowknife courthouse, only not today. I think the following could have happened:à
    1. De Jaeger went tot a Belgian consultate or embassy somewhere in Canada;
    2. Stated that during his many years of service in the north, his passport had expired
    3. Now he needed to get home
    4. He was provided with either an update or temp. visa or something which enabled this
    5. Remember, he is fluent in flemish… and had a credible professional background. I would understand that this story would not be checked out.
    Although I am willing to check this out, I am wondering : ‘why is this an issue now’

  8. 1yellowknife says:

    #5 finish the thought: Not checked out before giving him papers which could get him back into Belgium.

  9. Sylvia says:

    Thanks 1yellowknife. That would be great.

    Here’s the why…

    The thing is that IF – IF – in 1995, as in they had done for Dejaeger in the past, the Oblates posted bail, then the Oblates stood to lose (or did lose?), a lot of dollars when Dejaeger packed his bags and fled ‘home’ to Belgium.

    Did the Oblates lose money when he fled justice? Assuming that it would have been the Oblates who would have again stepped up to the plate for Dejaeger in his time of need, that depends on whether or not bail was posted.

    IF bail was posted then Dejaeger fled knowing that his Oblate brethern were going to be out thousands of dollars.

    And, also, IF there was no bail, I would wonder why not? Perhaps it’s not always required. I just don’t know. But, I would like to know if bail was posted.

    As for his Belgian passport, well, IF he had been compelled to turn it in again in 1995 and then outright lied to get one in a hurry, then that’s another issue. We probably would never be able to sort that out, but, IF that’s what happened it certainly took a lot of nerve and audacity on his part. But, that I believe would be a matter for Belgian officials

  10. Michel B. says:

    I may be all wrong on this but… in 1995 he was just charged and was to appear. He was not taken into custody so I am guessing he was under some sort of self recognizance to appear but not under a formal bail order. He then absconded from his responsibility to appear in the time between his being charged and his first appearence. I do smell that the oblates had a hand in getting him to Belgium and that legal counsel was under the impression nothing further would develop as result of the charges. It does not play out as it should have in any other case thats for sure. I don’t doubt for a second he would have misrepresented himself by omission or commission in seeking any needed document to leave and find safe harbour in an oblate house in another country.

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