Skip to content

Defrocked Nunavut priest arrested on historical sexual assault charges

Eric Dejaeger leaves an Iqaluit courtroom Jan. 20, 2011, after his first appearance for six child sexual abuse charges in Igloolik dating back to the 1970s. The defrocked Oblate priest and convicted sex offender is facing eight new criminal charges for historical sexual assaults he allegedly committed while living in Nunavut. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Windeyer

KINGSTON, Ont. — A defrocked Oblate priest and convicted sex offender is facing eight new criminal charges for past sexual assaults he allegedly committed while living in Nunavut.

Iqaluit RCMP said Eric Dejaeger, 76, was arrested on a Canada-wide warrant Wednesday in Kingston, Ont., where he was living. Police said he will be transported to Iqaluit to appear on the charges before the Nunavut Court of Justice. 

Police gave no details about when and where the alleged assaults occurred, but said the charges stem from investigations conducted between 2011 and 2015. 

Dejaeger, who was born in Belgium and became a Canadian citizen in 1977, has previously been convicted of numerous sexual offences.

He served part of a five-year sentence beginning in 1990 for sexual crimes against children in Baker Lake, Nunavut, committed between 1982 and 1989.

Following his release, he learned RCMP were investigating his activities in Igloolik, Nvt., and fled to Belgium. He was extradited back to Canada in 2011 over immigration violations.

In 2015, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison for 32 crimes he committed against Inuit children and some adults between 1978 and 1982 in Igloolik. The offences included indecent assault, unlawful confinement and bestiality.

Dejaeger had pleaded guilty to eight counts and was convicted of a further 24 largely against children between eight and 12 years old. The details of the crimes were so appalling the judge's sentencing came with a content warning.

Later in 2015, Dejaeger was also sentenced for historical sexual offences against children in Alberta, to be served concurrently with his sentence for the Igloolik charges.

He was given statutory release on May 19, 2022, after serving two-thirds of his sentence. His parole included numerous restrictions, including that he not be around children without the presence of a guardian, and that he continue therapy for sexual deviance.

Rev. Ken Thorson, with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe Canada, said they "condemn any acts sexual abuse."

"At this point, we have not yet been contacted by police, but we are fully committed to co-operating with authorities as this process continues," Thorson said in a statement. 

"Clergy abuse is a tragedy, and we are deeply sorry to any survivors who have been harmed by Eric or any other Oblate, Catholic priest, or religious leader."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023. 

The Canadian Press

Looking for National Business News? viewed on a mobile phone

Check out Village Report - the news that matters most to Canada, updated throughout the day.  Or, subscribe to Village Report's free daily newsletter: a compilation of the news you need to know, sent to your inbox at 6AM.