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Catholic priest Eric Dejaeger leaves an Iqaluit, Nunavut courtroom Jan. 20, 2011 after his first appearance for six child sexual abuse charges in Igloolik dating back to the 1970s.

Chris Windeyer/The Canadian Press

A witness at a child abuse trial in Nunavut is describing how a priest once used hunger to force children into sex.

The woman says her family in Igloolik, Nunavut, was sometimes hungry for days at a time between 1978 and 1982, the years when Belgian national Eric Dejaeger was the priest in the remote community.

She says her grandmother, who was raising her, often sent her to the church for a meal.

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The witness says that after one such meal, when she was eight years old, Dejaeger took her upstairs and raped her.

She says she was bleeding after the assault and Dejaeger took her into the bathroom to clean herself up, then spread garbage bags on his bedroom couch so she wouldn't stain it.

The witness says she told her grandmother about the rape, but the woman didn't believe her.

She says she stopped going to school after the assault so she didn't have to face Mr. Dejaeger during after-class Bible study.

Mr. Dejaeger has admitted to indecent assault in eight cases against him.

He was supposed to be tried in 1995 for accusations stemming from when he was an Oblate priest in the tiny Arctic hamlet of Igloolik, but he returned to his Belgian homeland.

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