A defrocked Canadian Catholic priest was convicted of 31 counts of sexual abuse against children, and one count of frocking a sled dog. Eric Dejaeger was found guilty of raping dozens of children, more than twenty of them from the small Inuit hamlet of Igoolik between 1978 and 1982.
Then charges upon which the former priest is convicted include unlawful confinement, indecent assault, unlawful sexual intercourse, and a count of bestiality.
According to victims, he used his position to lure them into sex, threatening to separate them from their families and saying they would burn in Hell if they did not acquiesce.
“I was scared of him,” said one witness, who was eight at the time of the assault. “He told me not to tell anybody and then he said he was going to do something to me.” After the assault, he took her to the bathroom to clean up. She was bleeding, so he placed her on a garbage bag-covered couch to prevent staining.
She said that afterwards, she told he grandmother, who often left her at the church for meals because the family did not have much to eat. “She beat me up and told me I was lying.”
Several victims said that Dejaeger would force them to watch as he had sex with his dog. They told their parents, but no one believed it. One man said that the priest would fondle him as the other children read and colored Bible pictures.
In 1990, Dejaeger was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting eight children in Baker Lake, Nunavut.
Once he was released from prison, he fled to Belgium, where he was arrested in 2011 and returned to Canada after Belgian officials discovered he was living there illegally.
Widespread abuse in the Catholic Church is not exactly a secret. Recently, the Pope admitted that 1 in 50 members of the clergy are child molesters. Last year, an extreme anti-gay priest stepped down in shame amid child abuse allegations. Another, however, received a standing ovation from the congregation after allegations of sexual abuse resurfaced.
Unfortunately, the disease is not limited to Catholicism. In June, we reported that at least 24 pastors were arrested for sex crimes against children and the disabled in May alone! Even Christian icon Phil Robertson has been known to openly suggest that men marry children so they are easier to train. Robertson married his own wife when he was a legal adult, and she was just sixteen. The began dating when she was 14, and he was 18 or 19 — in college.
In June, a Catholic Archbishop claimed that he didn’t know having sex with a child was illegal. “I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,” Archbishop Robert Carlson said regarding allegations of sex abuse in the 1980’s.
At the risk of sounding “anti-Christianity,” isn’t it about time religious leaders step up and check on their trusted holy figures? Perhaps an awareness campaign.