Eric Dejaeger sentencing: 9 victims make impact statements
Nine victims spoke at a sentencing hearing today in Iqaluit for Eric Dejaeger, the former Roman Catholic priest convicted last fall of 32 counts of child sexual abuse dating back three decades in Igloolik, Nunavut.
The victims, who were children at the time of the abuse, are now in their 40s, 50s and 60s. They and their families filled the Nunavut Court of Justice’s largest courtroom this morning.
The sentencing hearing gives them an opportunity to voice what emotional, physical and financial impact the crimes have had on their lives.
Dozens of complainants came forward over the course of the trial. Half were male, half female. So far today, six women and three men have submitted victim impact statements. Some read their statements themselves. Others had a family member, court officer or Crown prosecutor read a statement on their behalf.
Many victims cited ongoing anger issues and depression. One said she did not finish school and attempted suicide because of the sexual abuse she suffered as a girl. Another said he wants the Vatican held responsible. One asked that Dejaeger be put away for a long time, saying he never received or wanted financial compensation, just for it all to be over.
Some cried as they spoke of recurring nightmares and memories they can’t shake. Several say they turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with the pain.
Others said because they trusted the man they knew as Father Eric, it has affected their relationship with God and people in authority.
A few of the victims said they struggle with intimacy and trust.
The court is expected to hear from four more victims when the hearing resumes this afternoon.
Justice Robert Kilpatrick said the victim impact statements will wrap up tomorrow.
Sentencing is expected to begin Wednesday and could take one or two days.