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Northern priest pleads guilty to sex charges involving Inuit children

An RCMP officer escorts accused Eric DeJager into the court building in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Nov. 18, 2013 for the first day of his trial on many sex related charges.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

A northern priest has pleaded guilty to some of the dozens of sex-related charges he faces involving Inuit children. Eric Dejaeger has admitted in a Nunavut courtroom to indecent assault in eight cases against him.

Dejaeger 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.

He was sent back by Belgium in 2011 after it was discovered he was living there illegally.

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An agreed statement of facts has yet to be entered on the charges to which Dejaeger pleaded guilty.

The trial in Iqaluit is now continuing with testimony from complainants.

The Crown's first witness described how, as a young girl between the ages of five and nine, she was repeatedly assaulted by Dejaeger at a church building were the children often gathered to play.

She told the judge hearing the case that the assaults began with Dejaeger holding her on his lap and putting his hand inside her pants.

The witness testified how, on one occasion, the priest grabbed her and took her to a room upstairs. She said he put her on the bed and tried to rape her. She described how she tried to get him to stop, trying to hold him off with her hands, but he was too strong.

"I was crying," she said. "I didn't know how to stop him. He was really strong. I was trying to think of any way I could to make him stop."

She said she got him to stop by defecating.

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She said Dejaeger stopped what he was doing and called her disgusting. He took her down to a nearby river that was still largely frozen and stuck her in the water, where she was later found by a friend.

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