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Eric Dejaeger found guilty of 24 out of 68 sex-related charges

09/12/2014 05:00 EDT | Updated 11/11/2014 05:59 EST
A Nunavut judge has found Eric Dejaeger guilty of 24 of 68 charges relating to sex crimes dating back to his time as a Catholic priest in Igloolik, Nunavut, before he fled Canada in the mid-1990s. 

Dejaeger, 67, had already pleaded guilty to eight counts of indecent assault. 

Dejaeger had pleaded not guilty to the 68 charges relating to allegations of sex crimes against children in Igloolik three decades ago. His trial that started in November 2013 ended in May.

He will be back in court for sentencing Jan. 19.

In his written decision, Justice Robert Kilpatrick noted that the quantity of evidence in the case had been substantially weakened by the passage of time.

The trial was marked by high emotion and lurid tales as more than 40 complainants testified.

Witness after witness told court that Dejaeger used his position as Igloolik's missionary to lure and trap them into sex, threatening them with hellfire or separation from their families if they told.

Dejaeger's lawyer questioned the credibility of many of those accounts, but the Crown argued that enough common themes emerged from the testimony that the stories from the victims hold together.

At the trial that began in November, there were two lengthy adjournments and the number of charges went up and down as new counts were added and others dismissed.

Justice Robert Kilpatrick reserved his ruling following the trial, apologizing for the delays

Dejaeger was sentenced to five years in prison in 1989 for sexual assaults in Baker Lake, Nunavut. In 1995, Dejaeger left Canada for Belgium shortly after charges were laid against him in Igloolik. An international warrant for his arrest was issued in 2001.

He was arrested by Belgian authorities in January 2011 on immigration charges and returned to Canada.

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