Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president Deepak Sharma found guilty of sexual assault

NORTH Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Patricia Bond has found 62-year-old Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford guilty of sexual assault of a woman in his North Shore taxi in January 2019.

After the incident, Sharma resigned as Abbotsford Hindu Temple president.

What made this even more embarrassing for the temple was, that six years prior to that, Karam Vir, a former priest at the temple, had been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for sexual offences involving two teenage girls. Vir was deported back to India after serving his sentence.

The Abbotsford News at the time reported that according to court records, Sharma was charged in relation to an alleged incident on January 2, 2019, in West Vancouver involving a passenger. West Vancouver Police Department Constable Jeff Palmer confirmed the charge.

The victim alleged that she was grabbed in her private parts and her hand was put on the driver’s private parts by force. Sharma was arrested on January 17, 2019, after an investigation and charged with sexual assault. He surrendered his West Vancouver taxi permit after getting a revocation letter.

Sharma had also served a two-year term as president of the Fraser Valley Hindu Cultural Society, which runs the Hindu temple in west Abbotsford, the Vice President of the temple told the newspaper.

Last week, Bond in her verdict noted that the main issue was whether the victim had consented to Sharma touching her and concluded that the victim was a reliable witness, telling the judge what happened in a “balanced” and “forthright manner,” reported the North Shore News.

Bond found “no air of reality” to Sharma’s version of events, which lacked clarity, “appeared at times to be rehearsed” and were inconsistent on several points including whether he was sexually interested in the woman and whether the camera lens had been covered at any point during the cab ride, the North Shore News said.

Sharma will be back in court on June 29 to have a date set for his sentencing.