GURMEET “Bill” Bhangal, 48, Brampton businessman, has now been found not guilty in a sexual assault case involving an 18-year-old woman in April 2011 in a Mercedes SUV.
But the alleged victim, whose identity cannot be revealed because of a court order, hopes the Crown will appeal the decision.
Bhangal was convicted in February 2013 and the following month he was given four months of house arrest in spite of the Crown’s request for three months in jail. The judge said at the time that jail time would be “disproportionate because of the good things (Bhangal) has done before and after his heinous crime.” He was also sentenced to 18 months’ probation.
Bhangal, is the husband of Pam Hundal, who twice failed to win a seat in the Ontario legislature from Brampton-Springdale as a Progressive Conservative party candidate.
However, the conviction was overturned because the judge was wrong in finding that Bhandal had texted the alleged victim to contact him when she was alone in the days after the alleged assault, when in fact it was the other way around. The alleged victim testified that she had hoped to record a confession from him.
At the second trial, although Ontario Court Justice Ian Cowan last week found the alleged victim credible, he also found a defence witness credible and said he was “ultimately left in doubt, from the evidence of the defence and evidence as a whole.” Because of that, the judge said “doubt must be exercised in favour of the defendant” and ordered an acquittal.
The Toronto Star reported that the complainant told the court that when she was with Bhangal that day in his SUV to count lawn signs for data for the upcoming provincial election, he parked on a secluded road to smoke and then kissed her by force and groped her under her shirt.
She told her immediate supervisor at work and her mother and then called the police the following week.
But Bhangal testified that he and the complainant were accompanied by a senior manager. Two witnesses supported his version of events. The senior manager testified that he never spoke to police. The other witness testified that while she told police that she saw Bhangal and the complainant leave to check signs, she never mentioned that the senior manager had accompanied them because she said police never asked her about any other employees.
The judge found the senior manager’s evidence credible although the Crown suggested that Bhangal conspired with the two witnesses to provide himself with an alibi.