A recent Globe and Mail article describes how a disgraced Roman Catholic priest is being flown back from his native Belgium to face 30 year-old charges of sexual abuse in Canada’s tiny northern community of Igloolik.
Father Erik Dejaeger was charged with nine counts of sexual and indecent assault in Baker Lake, NWT and was sentenced to five years in prison. That was in April 1990. In 1995, Father Dejaeger was charged once more – this time for buggery and sexual interference during his tenure among the Innuit in Igoolik as an Oblate priest.
This time Father Dejaeger fled to his native Belgium instead of appearing for his court hearing. In Belgium, he worked for the Catholic Church, living in a villa with a group of Oblates who deliberately hid their pedophile brother from Interpol and misled the Belgian inquiry into sexual abuse by priests.
All of this sounds familiar. In the 1960s I lived with my husband in Wabush, Labrador, an isolated mining town. This was before child abuse was out of the closet, yet we all “knew” that the priests serving our remote area were probably there because they had disgraced their institution in the south. If they were caught sexually abusing the children in our frozen land, they’d be sent further north – to the Inuit and First Nations communities.
The policy is known as Pass the Trash. Most institutions in charge of children have been guided by this strategy. Schools, historically, have quietly fired pedophile teachers, providing them with glowing references with which to seek jobs in another area. Physicians covered for offending colleagues until their Task Force on Sexual Abuse set in place a way of revoking the license of offending physicians.