Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Crown Wants 25 Years for Sex-Abusing Former Arctic Priest

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Crown Wants 25 Years for Sex-Abusing Former Arctic Priest

Article excerpt

Crown wants 25 years for former Arctic priest

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IQALUIT, Nunavut - Prosecutors have asked an Arctic court to sentence a defrocked priest convicted of sexually abusing dozens of Inuit children to 25 years in prison.

"(Eric Dejaeger) appears to have no insight into why he offended and he didn't stop until he got caught," said head Crown prosecutor Doug Curliss.

But defence lawyer Malcolm Kempt argued that a 12-year sentence would be enough.

"(The Crown's proposal) would be heavy-handed and inappropriate," he said before court adjourned for the day, maintaining that 25 years far exceeds sentences given to other multiple child sex abusers.

Thursday's hearing is expected to begin with Dejaeger himself addressing the court.

The former Oblate missionary is facing sentencing on 32 counts of sexual abuse committed when he was stationed in Igloolik, Nunavut, between 1978 and 1982.

Final sentencing arguments before Justice Robert Kilpatrick were made Wednesday after two days of victim impact statements. In deeply emotional testimony, witnesses from Igloolik told how they've been left with permanent mental and physical scars.

One man said that the smell of moldy wood takes him back to the mission's boiler room where Dejaeger raped him. A woman told court she blames Dejaeger for the scars that have been diagnosed on her womb.

Many spoke of lingering anger and depression and of attempts to flee those feelings through booze and drugs.

Dejaeger blighted his victims' lives, said Curliss.

"They look back and think, 'If this hadn't happened to me, what would I have been?'"

But Kempt said Curliss' request was far out of line. He pointed out Graham James, the minor hockey coach who abused numerous young players, originally got 3 1/2 years before he was convicted of more offences.

"I had difficulty finding anything close to what the Crown wants," he said.

Kempt said Dejaeger suffers from heart problems and is being treated for cancer. He pointed out his client has tried to co-operate and waived his preliminary hearing.

About 25 people attended the sentencing arguments in an Iqaluit courtroom, Nunavut's largest. …

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