The press reported late last week that former Roman Catholic
priest and Oblate missionary Eric Dejaeger has been convicted on 24
of 80 sex-related charges involving Inuit children from the remote
community of Igloolik in the Territory of Nunavut. The sexual
abuse Dejaeger was charged with reportedly took place in the late
1970s and early 1980s. The majority of those who say they
were abused by Dejaeger were, at the time, boys and girls between
the ages of 8 and 12. Although Dejaeger pled guilty to some
of the charges against him, he also contested some of the charges,
thereby forcing many who alleged they had been abused by him to
testify at a criminal trial.
Dejaeger had been previously convicted of similar sex-related
criminal charges involving children in another remote northern
community, where he was posted after he served in Igloolik.
Media reports indicate that after serving his sentence for his
previous convictions, Dejaeger fled to Belgium before eventually
being located and brought back to Canada to face more criminal
This sad story of clergy sexual abuse of vulnerable children in
remote communities inhabited by Canada's Aboriginal and Inuit
peoples is, unfortunately, not the first of its kind. There
are many other examples. One such example is Ralph Rowe, a
former Anglican priest and Boy Scout leader, who traveled to fly-in
reserve communities in northwestern Ontario using an official
Anglican Church of Canada-issued float plane. He too
committed widespread sexual assaults on Aboriginal male youth in
the 1970s and 1980s. This resulted in wave after wave of
criminal charges, convictions based on guilty pleas and trials, as
well as civil lawsuits for compensation against the organizations
that placed Ralph Rowe in positions of power, authority and trust,
and yet failed to detect or stop his rampant pedophilia.
What we can expect to see now in Nunavut are civil claims for
compensation by the victims of former Oblate missionary Dejaeger,
and not just those victims in relation to whom Dejaeger has been
criminally convicted. While a conviction on the criminal
standard of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" is
determinative of wrongdoing in a civil lawsuit, where the standard
of proof is the lower one of proof "on a balance of
probabilities", an acquittal on criminal charges is irrelevant
in a civil lawsuit. This is because the acquittal only means
there was a reasonable doubt which did not allow for a conviction
and not that the accused person is innocent of any wrongdoing.
With well-established precedents of high authority in which
Canadian courts have found religious organizations vicariously
liable for the sexual misconduct of their clergy, the victims of
Dejaeger are likely to have viable civil claims for compensation
against the Oblates who assigned Dejaeger to do their missionary
work in Inuit communities in Nunavut. Compensation may help
some victims and their families, and even assist their communities,
all of whom have no doubt suffered tremendous harm and losses as a
result of Dejaeger's extensive sexual misconduct.
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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