Former priest convicted of 32 counts of child sex abuse over 3 decades ago in Nunavut
CBC News Posted: Jan 19, 2015 7:00 AM CT Last Updated: Jan 19, 2015 11:32 AM CT
Eric Dejaeger bows his head as he’s taken to the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit on Monday. The former priest’s sentencing hearing began Monday. (Vincent Desrosiers/CBC)
The victims, who were children at the time of the abuse, are now in their 40s, 50s and 60s. They and their families filled the Nunavut Court of Justice’s largest courtroom this morning.
The sentencing hearing gives them a final opportunity to voice what emotional, physical and financial impact these crimes have had on their lives.
Dozens of complainants came forward over the course of the trial. Half were male, half female. So far today, six women and three men have submitted victim impact statements. Some read their statements themselves. Others had a family member, court councillor or Crown prosecutor read it on their behalf.
Many victims cited ongoing anger issues and depression. One said she did not finish school and attempted suicide because of the sexual abuse she suffered as a girl. Another said he wants the Vatican held responsible. One asked that Dejaeger be put away for a long time, saying he never received or wanted financial compensation, just for it all to be over.
Some cried as they spoke of recurring nightmares and memories they can’t shake. Several say they turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with the pain.
Others say because they trusted the man they knew as “Father Eric,” it has affected their relationship with God and people of authority.
A few of the victims say they struggle with intimacy and trusting men.
The court is expected to hear from four more victims when court resumes this afternoon.
Justice Robert Kilpatrick says the victim impact statements will finish by tomorrow.
Sentencing is expected to begin Wednesday and could take one or two days.
The CBC’s Peter Worden is tweeting from the courtroom. Follow him here or on Twitter: @wordenCBC.