Northern News Services
Published Monday, September 20, 2010
IGLULIK – A priest facing six 30-year-old sex-related charges stemming from his time in Iglulik turned himself in to Belgian police last week.
Eric dejaeger: Priest arrested in Belgium and charged with sex-related crimes in Iglulik.
Eric Dejaeger, 63, was a priest in Iglulik in the late ’70s and early ’80s. He is facing three counts each of buggery and indecent assault for incidents alleged to have occurred between Sept. 26, 1978 and Aug. 9, 1982 at or near the hamlet of Iglulik, according to his arrest warrant issued April 22, 2002.
The warrant was issued as Dejaeger was out of the country when charged, having not even made his first court appearance, said Barry McLaren, the chief federal prosecutor for Nunavut. He added some of the complainants were minors at the time of the alleged offences.
“We still have an open file on him and it’s an open case,” he said.
The federal justice department has not yet filed an extradition request to bring Dejaeger to Canada to face the charges.
“There are discussions going on between the department of justice and the Belgium authorities about whether extradition is a possibility,” said McLaren.
Iqaluit RCMP Sgt. Jimmy Akavak said the Nunavut Crown’s office, the territorial and federal departments of Justice and Belgian authorities are working together to try to extradite Dejaeger back to Canada.
“It will be up to Canada and Belgium to decide, at the end of the day. There are court cases to be dealt with in Canada, here in the North and that’s the ultimate plan,” Akavak said.
“That’s a step forward, in a way. At least authorities know where he is. I am sure Belgium police are keeping an eye on where he is. At least that’s a beginning.”
Father Tony Krotki, the Catholic priest who has been at St. Stephen’s Church in Iglulik for the past nine years, said he had heard of the allegations against Dejaeger when he came to do his ministry in the community.
Krotki said he believed when he began serving in Iglulik it might be difficult for him as perhaps he would remind the community of Dejaeger.
“I see those people (the complainants) in the church, some of them very often. So that means that they have been able to bring closure and forgiveness. Some others might not,” he said.
Since the news broke of Dejaeger’s contact with Belgian police, Krotki said he has not heard any comments.
“Not one of them has been talking to me about it, ever,” he said of the complainants. “I don’t know what to really think about it, unless they will come and express their thoughts on it or their feelings.”
No one has spoken to the hamlet office regarding this issue, said Celestino Uyarak, the acting senior administrative officer.
“To this day, this office has not received any comments or complaints,” he said. “But the community is just starting to find out about the story and I am sure someone is not too happy about this.”