Catholic Priest Guilty Of Raping Inuit Children And A Sled Dog In The Canadian Arctic

Belgian-born Eric Dejaeger, a defrocked Catholic priest, has been found guilty of raping dozens of children as well as a sled dog while employed by the Roman Catholic Church.

Eric Dejaeger is shown in an undated Interpol photo

Eric Dejaeger is shown in an undated Interpol photo

Dejaeger worked as a missionary in the Canadian Arctic for decades. In 1990, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting eight children in Baker Lake, a hamlet in Nunavut on mainland Canada. When released from prison, Dejaeger faced new allegations from victims in the Inuit hamlet of Igloolik in Northern Canada. He served there from 1978 to 1982. To avoid prosecution, Dejaeger fled Canada for Belgium, his country of birth. In 2011, he was arrested and returned to Canada to face additional charges.

Dejaeger’s trial for crimes committed in Igloolik began last November in Iqaluit, the capital city of Canada’s northernmost Nunavut territory.

According to CBC News, “The court heard testimony from more than 40 complainants during the course of this trial. It was said to be highly emotional, not uncommon for wailing to be heard in the courtroom.”

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Chilling details of the torture endured by the poor Inuit children were revealed during the trial. Victims said Dejaeger threatened them with hellfire or separation from their families if they told anyone of the abuse.

Plaintiffs also described how they were manipulated with food. Many families in Igloolik were poor and unable to provide enough food for their families. The mission would feed the children and this offered Dejaeger further access to them.

“When I was a child, sometimes we had nothing to eat,” one witness told the court. “Mama (her grandmother) would have to leave me there (at the church) so I could eat.”

The witness, who was 8-years-old at the time of the assault, testified that one night after dinner, Dejaeger took her into his bedroom, made her fondle him, then raped her.

One woman stated that Dejaeger forced several children to watch him have sex with his dog. The children told their parents, but they didn’t believe them.

Another witness recalled Dejaeger taking her into the kitchen while her parents spoke with the mission’s other priest. Dejaeger sat her on his lap, fed her treats and groped her while she ate. The witness was four years old at the time.

On Friday, a Canadian court convicted 67 year-old Dejaeger of 31 counts of sexual offenses against children and one count of bestiality.

Dejaeger is scheduled to be back in court in January for sentencing. The prosecution and defense have thirty days to appeal the decision.