"when something like this happens it really sends the wrong message to kids."
Following the sexual abuse of two children, Sikh priest Sajan Singh was found guilty at Auckland District Court in New Zealand on July 18, 2019.
Judge Nevin Dawson convicted the priest of six charges of sexual conduct with a child.
Singh, who is from India, sexually assaulted two girls in 2017.
The victims were aged eight and 12 years old when he lured them, separately, into quiet rooms within a West Auckland gurudwara and touched their bottoms.
The older girl’s father was present at the hearing and was relieved when it was announced that Singh was found guilty.
He praised his daughter for speaking out and said she “saved other kids” from facing the same ordeal at the hands of Singh.
Following the hearing, he said:
“It’s been two years of battle, but it restores my faith in the justice system to know this man will be punished.”
Since her ordeal, the New Zealand born girl, now aged 13, has refused to enter such Sikh temples. Her parents felt sad about that but respected her decision after her ordeal.
The father explained that children learnt about Sikh culture, Punjabi language and traditional music during classes at gurudwaras.
He said: “Religion is a way of life; it teaches you to be a good human and to live a good life, so when something like this happens it really sends the wrong message to kids.”
The man’s daughter told the court that Sajan Singh had asked for help in the gurudwara’s storeroom. He then touched her bottom inappropriately which made her “feel disgusted”.
She said she ran away from him. Singh approached her later that day and told her: “Sorry, but thank you.”
The girl said his behaviour “shocked and terrified” her.
The victim told her mother about the incident. Her parents later discovered that Singh had inappropriately touched another child.
As reported by stuff.co.nz, her father said:
“So we went to the police because we wanted to protect other kids.”
He claimed it was difficult to persuade the temple’s management to take the girls’ accusations seriously.
He added: “That’s the reason other people do not come forward.
“There’s this blind faith and trust for people in high positions, in religion, that makes people doubt victims because they simply don’t believe a priest could do these things.
“I’m very proud of my daughter for speaking out about this man.
“It would have been much, much worse if she hadn’t, and he was able to keep doing this to children at the gurudwara without any consequences.”
Singh was released on bail and is set to be sentenced in September 2019. After serving his sentence, Singh will be deported to India.