Pharyngula

From Nunavut to Lourdes

Eric Dejaeger is a Catholic priest and pedophile who benefited greatly from church policy: when it was learned that he was a child-raping monster, the Catholic Church did the upright, moral thing and kept him on as a priest, but simply shipped him off to the Canadian north where he’d only be raping the Inuit. When the law caught up with him even in that remote place, he fled…and guess where he found shelter and employment? Back in the arms of Mother Church, of course.

The Belgian-born priest, who became a Canadian citizen in 1977, is wanted for three counts of indecent assault on a male and three counts of buggery for incidents involving minors and alleged to have occurred between 1978 and 1982 in Igloolik. These charges were laid after he completed a five-year sentence in April of 1995 (a penitentiary stint, a halfway house then probation) for abusing children in Baker Lake, then part of the Northwest Territories, now part of Nunavut. Dejaeger left Canada before his first court date in June of 1995 and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

Six years later, the Interpol red alert was circulated. Nine years after that, in May of this year, Belgian journalist Douglas De Coninck published an article detailing Dejaeger’s life on the lam. The priest worked with pilgrims in Lourdes and participated in masses. A member of the Oblate Order of Mary Immaculate, he was living at the order’s villa in Blanden. Several months after the article appeared, Dejaeger voluntarily turned himself in at the Leuven police station.

Unfortunately, the Belgian police just turned him loose again, stating that there was no extradition order from Canada. He’s on the run again. Given his history, I can guess where we’ll find him: turn over a few churches, and he’ll be found nestling amongst the friendly priests.

But let’s not just blame religion! There’s also another nasty story here, of secular authorities turning a blind eye to his activities. He’d been brought before a Canadian judge who didn’t seem to think Dejaeger was such a bad fellow.

Oddly, Justice Ted Richard of the Northwest Territories Supreme Court wrote in his sentence decision that Dejaeger was not a pedophile even though “it does not appear that he stopped this activity on his own but only when he was caught.” It’s unclear how he was caught.

Dejaeger admitted to, among other sexual acts, having anal intercourse with boys and digital vaginal penetration with girls. Yet Richard seemed to praise the priest’s restraint:

“Because of the age of the victims of these assaults, consent is not an issue or a factor to be considered. However, it should be noted in fairness to the offender here that no violence was used in committing these assaults,” Richard wrote 20 years ago.

Priests don’t use violence, usually. They’ve got the shackles of tradition and dogma to hold their victims down for them.

And of course the real crime here is that these monsters in dog collars were dumped on the native peoples of Canada to rip their way through several generations, and there is no sign of remorse for that from the Vatican.