Winnipeg Man Who Kidnapped Alleged Molesters with Sword Spared Jail

By James Turner
Winnipeg Free Press

August 28, 2008

WINNIPEG - A member of a small Sikh sect who claims he was repeatedly sexually abused for years by priests at a Winnipeg temple has been spared jail time after kidnapping two of his alleged abusers while armed with a sword.

The 26-year-old, who pleaded guilty to two counts of forcible confinement and a single count of assault causing bodily harm, was sentenced Tuesday to a suspended sentence and a year of supervised probation for his crimes.

The incident dates back to December 2006, when the man entered the Gurdawara Nanaksar Sikh temple in an effort to confront the priests there for allegedly sexually abusing him for as many as seven years up until he was 15.

He was armed with a ceremonial sword, which he maintains he was carrying out of religious tradition, and not as a threatening weapon.

The man then forced the priests into a vehicle and drove them to his parents' home, where he hoped to have them admit to the alleged sexual abuse while his mother and sister listened.

The judge heard that the man asked one of the priests, "Do you remember how many times you did that to me?" - a question met with a sarcastic reply.

The man then lunged toward the priest, who had his finger caught in a bracelet, causing him to break it.

Police were called and the incident ended without further violence.

In the days that followed, police brought forward multiple sex-abuse-related charges against three of the temple's priests after the man made a formal statement to police.

Those charges are still before the courts, and a preliminary hearing is set for November.

Crown attorney Melinda Murray indicated the allegations have shocked and divided the Sikh community.

"It's clear to me there's been a division within the Sikh temple and the community. . . . There are sides being taken, a big discussion and it's become quite difficult for both sides."

Gurdawara Nanaksar is one of only 17 temples of its kind worldwide, and is associated with a specific Sikh Sect, Nanaksar Satsang Sabha.

There are about 300 members in Winnipeg.

Defence lawyer Kathy Bueti said her client claims to have been sexually assaulted at least 100 times by the priests on an almost daily basis, and asked the court to take his emotional state into account when sentencing the man.

"He dealt with that and didn't tell a soul. This was the first day he was going to tell another human being on earth what had happened," she said.

Provincial court Judge Catherine Carlson said while she noted the remorse shown by the man and his compliance with court orders since he was charged, she couldn't send the public a message that vigilante justice is condonable.

"The courts simply cannot sanction individuals - even individuals who themselves may be victims of horrendous crimes - taking the law in any way into their own hands and confronting their alleged perpetrators," Carlson said.


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