Ex-priest Dejaeger’s appeal starts moving through Nunavut court

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Notorious sex offender appealing some of his 2014 convictions

Nunatsiaq Online

NEWS: Nunavut November 16, 2017 – 3:30 pm

 Ex-priest Eric Dejaeger is escorted to the Nunavut Court of Justice around the start of his 2013-14 trial. (FILE PHOTO)
Ex-priest Eric Dejaeger is escorted to the Nunavut Court of Justice around the start of his 2013-14 trial. (FILE PHOTO)

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Lawyers representing notorious ex-priest Eric Dejaeger, 70, who is appealing several of his September 2014 sex crime convictions, say they are poring over “boxes of volumes” of legal documents, but expect to set their appeal date in March.

Scott Cowan, the Toronto-based lawyer representing Dejaeger in the appeal, told Justice Bonnie Tulloch by phone at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit, Nov. 15, that he can “commit to having this matter perfected for the March date.”

“We have the transcripts, [and] we have divided the work up,” Cowan told the court.

It’s no small task given the historic nature of Dejaeger’s crimes, Cowan said, because the ex-priest’s nearly year-long trial between September 2013 and November 2014 created mountains of legal paperwork.

Lawyers were further set back “one or two months,” when new lawyers had to be appointed to the file, Cowan said.

Dejaeger was given the right to legal aid in March by Nunavut Justice Neil Sharkey, after Nunavut’s legal services board denied his first application.

In total, Dejaeger has been convicted of 36 offenses, most of them sex crimes against Inuit children in the 1970s and 1980s, when he worked as an Oblate missionary in Igloolik.

That includes 24 convictions that followed his trial, eight guilty pleas he entered at the start of his trial, and four convictions for sex crimes committed against Edmonton-area children in the 1970s, which Dejaeger pleaded guilty to in 2015.

In the 1990s, Dejaeger served a five-year federal prison sentence after being convicted of nine counts involving sex crimes committed in Baker Lake in the 1980s.

Tulloch ordered Dejaeger’s legal team to provide Crown lawyers with all relevant data by mid-February, to give them enough time to prepare arguments.

“When they’re lengthy like that, everybody requires some time to review them,” she said.

Both sides will meet again on March 15, “for purposes of perfecting the appeal,” Tulloch added.

A date for a hearing on the appeal will also be set on the March appearance.

Cowan told the court “this appeal could [last] one day or more.”

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