11/21/2013 10:58 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

Eric Dejaeger, Former Nunavut Priest, Accused Of Raping Child In Church Building

IQALUIT, Nunavut - A witness at a child sex abuse trial in the Arctic wept as she described how her relationship with her parents and husband has been damaged by what she says happened to her.

The woman was testifying Thursday against Eric Dejaeger, who faces 69 charges going back to his time as a priest in Igloolik, Nunavut, more than 30 years ago.


"My husband is a good man," the woman told court. "But when it comes to sexual things, we argue and we fight.

"If he would touch me in a way Eric did, I start yelling and getting mad."

The woman said Dejaeger would pluck her from among the children playing and colouring in the church in Igloolik. He would sit her on his lap, she said, and fondle her while moving his legs underneath her and massaging himself.

"He didn't talk to me," she said. "He'd just breathe hard and say, 'Relax.'"

She said the assaults went on for at least three years, until she was eight years old.

"I was just a kid," she said. "I didn't know what he was doing."

By the time she was 12, other family members realized she was acting strangely.

"I remember playing with myself and touching myself," she said.

"I didn't know it was a sex thing."

Finally, her older sister took her aside.

"My sister told me I was doing crazy stuff. It made me figure I learned it from Eric.

Through racking sobs, the woman told Judge Robert Kilpatrick, "My sister decided to explain to me, and I figured out that I was being used as a sexual plaything."

She took her realization to her mother, who was deeply involved in church activities.

"I tried to explain to my mother, but she didn't want to believe me. I tried to talk to her when I was 12, but she just got mad. I couldn't talk to her again until two or three years ago, when I got a cheque."

Like many of the complainants against Dejaeger, the woman received compensation from the Catholic church. Her payment was $6,000.

Nearly a week into the trial, with nearly two dozen witnesses yet to testify, court has already heard of $219,000 that the church has paid out.

In earlier testimony Thursday, another woman said Dejaeger used to take her on his lap and fondle her. Ultimately, she said, he took her repeatedly to a dark corner of a room in the church building and raped her while her friends played nearby.

Dejaeger was in Igloolik from 1978 to 1982. He was to face charges in 1995, but fled Canada to his homeland of Belgium. He was eventually returned to Canada when Belgian officials realized he was living in the country illegally.

His trial is scheduled to last another five weeks.