Teen girls allegedly sexually touched were nervous accusing Hindu priest, Abbotsford police officer testifies

Published: February 14, 2013

JENNIFER SALTMAN
VANCOUVER DESI

Hindu Temple priest

A photograph taken Nov. 17, 2010 shows the residence of Karam Vir, a priest at the Hindu temple in Abbotsford who is on trial in Chilliwack for sex assault charges. Wayne Leidenfrost/PNG

Two teens who accused a former Abbotsford Hindu priest of sexual misconduct were nervous about speaking with police, according to the officer who took their statements.

“It was difficult for them to talk to me,” Abbotsford police Const. Mary Boonstra testified Thursday.
“There was a lot of fear there.”

Karam Vir is charged with two counts of touching a young person for a sexual purpose and one count of sexual assault. His trial is under way in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack.

On March 12, 2010, leaders from the Hindu temple, located on Walmsley Avenue and run by the Fraser Valley Hindu Cultural Society, told police they had received anonymous letters accusing a person in authority of sexual misconduct.

Earlier that day, a 17-year-old girl showed up at the police station to make a complaint about Vir.

About a month later she gave a video- and audio-recorded statement to Boonstra.

Boonstra said in court that after speaking with the alleged victim, she realized it was difficult for her to come forward because of concerns about how her family and community would react if they found out.

During the investigation the name of another possible victim surfaced and Boonstra contacted her. She met the girl, who had recently turned 18, in early May 2010 and arranged a statement.

Boonstra picked the girl up from school the day of her statement and brought her to the police department. She described the girl as “delicate.”

“She was very afraid and nervous,” Boonstra said.

After hearing both statements, Boonstra said she believed the girls.

“I believe they were truthful … I absolutely believe,” said Boonstra.

Defence lawyer Brij Mohan repeatedly asked Boonstra why she didn’t warn the girls about how important it was to tell the truth before and during their statements. They were also not informed of the penalties for lying to police or lying in court, although they were told the allegations were serious.

Boonstra said she felt the girls were telling the truth and they did not need to be warned.

“Did it ever cross your mind that these girls knew each other and they are making up a story?” asked Mohan.

“To be honest, absolutely not,” Boonstra replied.

The girls went to the same temple and knew of each other, but did not know each other personally, she said.

Justice Neill Brown will rule on whether the girls’ statements will be admissible in court.

The trial is expected to last nine days.

jensaltman@theprovince.com
twitter.com/jensaltman

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