Eric Dejaeger, currently in prison, hopes to overturn some of his 24 convictions
NEWS: Nunavut July 14, 2016 – 8:05 am
Notorious Nunavut pedophile Eric Dejaeger may have to find money in his own bank account to appeal some of the dozens of sex crimes against Inuit children of which he has been convicted.
His application for legal aid in Nunavut has been turned down.
That’s what Justice Neil Sharkey heard at the Nunavut Court of Appeal in Iqaluit July 13.
“You’re funding application at this time has been denied,” Lana Walker, a defence lawyer with the Baffin region’s legal aid office said in court.
“You have the right to appeal directly to the [Legal Services] Board of Directors… within 30 days,” Walker told Dejaeger, who appeared via videoconference from an Ontario detention centre.
Dejaeger, a defrocked oblate priest, wore a blue V-neck institution-issued shirt, the hair on his head and face now snow-white.
At times, Dejaeger stood against a white brick wall emblazoned with the words “Warkworth Institution” in block letters, his knuckles resting on a tabletop.
The Nunavut Court of Justice convicted Dejaeger of dozens of sex crimes against Inuit children and at least one dog while Dejaeger worked as an oblate in the communities of Baker Lake and Igloolik in the 1970s and 1980s.
Justice Robert Kilpatrick sentenced Dejaeger in February 2015 to 19 years in prison for those crimes, minus eight years of credit for time already served.
Dejaeger’s most recent convictions came in September 2015 when the Belgian-born missionary pleaded guilty to four sex crimes against Edmonton-area children while training to be a priest in the late 1970s.
Those charges, transferred from the Alberta court system to Nunavut, resulted in four more five-year prison terms to be served concurrently — or at the same time — as the other 11 years he is currently serving.
In March 2015 Dejaeger filed a notice of appeal, which listed six convictions he intends to appeal.
But it was not clear which six convictions he was contesting, or if more convictions would be added to the motion of appeal.
Justice Sharkey asked Dejaeger July 13 if he intended to appeal legal aid’s rejection of his funding application.
“Yes, I think so, your honour,” Dejaeger said.
Sharkey told Dejaeger that if legal aid also rejects that appeal, that Dejaeger can then make an application to the court to have a court-appointed lawyer.
That application is based, in part, on Dejaeger demonstrating a lack of resources to hire his own lawyer, Sharkey said.
Sharkey scheduled Dejaeger’s appeal to be addressed in court again on Nov. 9.
And the judge asked the legal services board to respond to Dejaeger’s appeal, if he makes one, before that date.
“I don’t want to wait until the ninth of November to find out legal services says no,” Sharkey said.
Ex-priest Eric Dejaeger denied Nunavut legal aid in appeal of child sex convictions
Appealing 24 convictions for sexually abusing children in Igloolik
Last Updated: Jul 14, 2016 7:11 AM CT
By Nick Murray, CBC News Posted: Jul 14, 2016 3:30 AM CT
Former Roman Catholic priest Eric Dejaeger has been denied funding by the Nunavut Legal Services board for a lawyer in his appeal of 24 convictions for sex crimes against children.
Dejaeger was sentenced to 19 years in prison in February 2015 for crimes committed in Igloolik between 1978 and 1982.
Dejaeger appeared Wednesday in an Iqaluit courtroom via video conference. He’s being held at Warkworth Institution, a medium-security federal prison in Trent Hills, Ont.
It’s not yet clear on what grounds he’s appealing his convictions.
The 69-year-old has 30 days to appeal the Nunavut Legal Services board’s decision to deny him funding for a lawyer.
Last year, Dejaeger was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to charges relating to the sexual abuse of three children in Edmonton between 1975 and 1978 when he was studying at Newman Theological College. That sentence is to be served at the same time as the sentence for his Igloolik charges.
Dejaeger previously served a five-year sentence for sexually abusing children in Baker Lake, Nunavut, where he was posted between 1982 and 1989. After serving that sentence, in 1995 he was charged for the offences in Igloolik and he fled to Belgium, where he lived for 16 years despite an international warrant for his arrest.
He was returned to Canada in 2011 to face the Igloolik charges.