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Ex-priest gets prison in Canada for sexual assaults of children

Published on 04/02/2015

A defrocked Catholic priest was sentenced Wednesday to 19 years in prison for sexual assault of dozens of children in the Canadian Arctic, where he worked as a missionary for decades.

Belgian-born Eric Dejaeger, 67, was convicted in September of 31 counts of sexual offenses against Inuit children and one count of bestiality with a sled dog.

With credit for time served while awaiting trial, he is expected to spend the next 11 years in jail.

Dejaeger had originally faced 80 charges, but the judge ruled the evidence had been weakened by the passage of time, and whittled down the number in the indictment.

During the emotionally-charged trial, more than 20 victims testified that Dejaeger used his position as a missionary to lure them into sex, threatening them with hellfire and separation from their families if they exposed him.

From 1978 to 1982, Dejaeger worked alongside other local priests in Igloolik in what was then the Northwest Territories, and eventually took on Canadian citizenship.

In 1990, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting eight children in Baker Lake, Nunavut.

Following his release from prison and facing fresh allegations, he fled to his birth country of Belgium, where he was arrested in 2011 and subsequently returned to Canada to face prosecution.