SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- A former priest found guilty of sexually abusing children in Igloolik, Nunavut, 30 years ago has been sentenced to 19 years in prison.
Eric Dejaeger, 67, was found guilty last year of 32 counts of child sexual abuse dating back to his time as a priest in between 1978 and 1982.
“Your selfishness has devastated a generation of young Roman Catholic parishioners in Igloolik,” Justice Robert Kilpatrick, of the Nunavut Court of Justice, wrote in his sentencing decision.
“Many lives have been irrevocably altered by your dark legacy. For many victims, the commission of your offence has marked the end of living and the beginning of their survival. You must now atone for the many wrongs that you have inflicted on others. This sentence is only the beginning of that atonement.”
The Crown had asked for a sentence of 25 years in prison, while the defence suggested 12 years.
Both lawyers recommended that the accused be credited two days for every day spent in pretrial custody.
Kilpatrick agreed, crediting Dejaeger eight years for his time spent in remand. That means he has 11 years left to serve on the sentence.
Dejaeger has been in custody since January 2011, following his arrest on immigration charges in his home country of Belgium.
It was discovered his citizenship there was no longer valid. Dejaeger was then returned to Canada to face charges laid in 1995.
Dejaeger’s lawyer, Malcolm Kempt, had urged the judge to consider Dejaeger’s age and health issues in sentencing.
“This factor [old age] was created by Mr. Dejaeger himself as a direct result of his flight from justice and long self-imposed exile in Belgium,” Kilpatrick wrote.
“Had Mr. Dejaeger appeared as required in 1995 to answer the new criminal allegations, he would not have been in a position to raise his age and medical condition in mitigation of sentence.”
Dejaeger still faces charges of indecent assault and gross indecency relating to incidents alleged to have occurred in Edmonton between 1975 and 1978 when he was studying at Newman Theological College.