Ex-Catholic priest pleads guilty to some charges at sex abuse trial

Nov. 18, 2013 at 5:48 PM

IQALUIT, Nunavut, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- A former Catholic priest pleaded guilty in northern Canada Monday to eight counts of child sex abuse, and went to trial on the remaining 68 counts against him.

Eric Dejaeger, 66, faces allegations of sex abuse dating as far back as 1978 and is suspected of abusing more than 40 Iqaluit children while he was assigned there there until 1982, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Dejaeger had already served a five-year sentence, mostly at a halfway house and on probation, after being convicted of sexual misconduct with children when he was to stand trial in 1995 for additional allegations made while he was serving as a priest in Baker Lake. Dejaeger fled Canada and returned to his native Belgium. He remained at large for years living on the French-Belgium border.

In 2001, Interpol placed Dejaeger on its red list of internationally wanted fugitives. He was apprehended in 2011 after it was found his Belgian citizenship had been revoked and returned to Canada where he's finally standing trial.

More than 40 witnesses are expected to testify in a trial that will last more than six weeks, the Nunatsiaq News reported. The first was a woman in her 40s who said when she was a child Dejaeger fondled her and sexually abused her. She testified Dejaeger told her it was a sin to lie and threatened her that she would be taken away from her family if she said anything about the abuse.

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