The priest-abuse scandal currently rocking Europe is reverberating in Nunavut. Thanks to a Belgian article on abusive Catholic priests, a pedophile cleric who allegedly molested Inuk children in the 1980s has been outed, and now, arrested, according to Canadian news reports.
Father Eric Dejaeger, arrested for an expired visa on Jan. 3, may well be sent back to Canada to face his accusers.
The news surfaced on the blog of Belgian crime journalist Joris van der Aa, the Montreal Gazette reported.
The now 63-year-old Dejaeger worked as an Oblate missionary in Igloolik and Baker Lake from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. He allegedly abused children in both places, but only served time for the Baker Lake convictions. After five years in prison he fled to his native Belgium, where he remained hidden until a series of articles in the Belgian press about abusive Catholic priests flushed him out.
The Igloolik allegations were investigated by an RCMP officer, Cpl. Tom Power, in 1993 and 1994, but Dejaeger never appeared in court. He was almost apprehended in mid-September but was let go for lack of evidence, the News said.
On Sept. 15, the Belgian government said he had lost his citizenship years earlier.
Partly spurring the Belgian revelations were a Church commission report that widespread child sexual abuse in the Belgian Church drove at least 13 victims to suicide, reported the Malta Independent.
Katrien Jansseune, a spokeswoman for the Belgian immigration department, is quoted on the blog of Joris van der Aa, a Belgian crime journalist, saying that Belgium wants to ship Dejaeger back to Canada.