Letter expressed concerns about priest’s behaviour

Details presented during trial for Karam Vir of Abbotsford, charged with three sexual offences.

Kamar Vir

Kamar Vir

An anonymous letter sent to various sources in 2010 expressed concerns that a priest at the Hindu temple in Abbotsford was having inappropriate interactions with females in his congregation.

Testimony presented Wednesday morning in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack indicated that a copy of that letter was submitted to the Abbotsford Police Department (APD).

It formed part of the APD’s investigation that led to Karam Vir, 33, being charged in November 2010 with two counts of touching a young person for a sexual purpose and one count of sexual assault.

Vir’s trial on the charges began Wednesday and is expected to last nine days.

Const. Mary Boonstra, who headed the investigation, testified that two men from the temple – located on Walmsley Avenue – came to the front counter of the APD on March 12, 2010 with a copy of the letter.

“They had some concerns … with respect to the priest’s behaviour, and they wanted an investigation opened about it,” Boonstra said.

She advised the men to speak to their congregation about the concerns and that anyone with information should contact her.

Boonstra then talked to one of her superiors and discovered that 10 minutes before the men had arrived, a young woman had come to the APD to complain about Vir.

She alleged that Vir had kissed her, touched her inappropriately and offered her alcohol.

The young woman, who was 17 at the time of the allegations, later gave audio- and videotaped statements about the incidents.

The name of another potential victim was offered to police, and that woman, also 17, was contacted by police. She, too, provided official statements with similar allegations, although she was reluctant to do so because her family was not aware of her disclosure.

Boonstra said both women were also hesitant of testifying in court.

“They were both very scared … They were both very nervous because of the family dynamics in their own homes and in the community.”

Boonstra said that although other names of possible victims were provided to police, no other improprieties were found to have taken place.

She said the author of the letter, which was sent to about 10 businesses and to the temple, was never determined.

The two complainants in the case are expected to begin their testimony, via closed-circuit television, later this week or early next week.