A Coldstream man will spend three and a half years behind bars for sexually assaulting children.
Anoop Singh Klair was sentenced on Sept. 15 by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Murray Blok for three counts of sexual touching of a person under 14 and one count of sexual assault with a weapon.
The crimes were committed against four children between the ages of nine and 13, approximately 20 years ago, before he was a teacher.
Now 40, Klair was between the age of 19 and 23 at the time of the offences.
When asked if he had anything to say before his sentencing, Klair offered no apology but asked the judge to consider the impacts his decision would have on Klair’s family.
“I am the sole provider for my family. Your decision will not only impact me, it impacts my daughter, my younger daughter and my wife,” said Klair, who also mentioned that his oldest daughter is seeking counselling for anxiety.
The Crown sought a five-to seven-year sentence, but Blok said while the circumstances of this case are serious, he acknowledged Klair’s past 18 years years of a pro-social life and assessed his likelihood of reoffending was likely low.
“He has suffered substantial collateral damages,” said Blok of Klair losing employment, impacts on his family and being removed from his home while the Ministry of Children and Family Development investigated.
Blok also noted the “terrible toll” Klair’s actions have on the four victims, who have suffered for years, in silence until recently.
Loss of self-worth, confidence and trust in others were identified by the victims, along with feelings of inadequacy, debilitating panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and obsessive protection of their own children.
“For too long, the boogeyman didn’t just haunt my nightmares but seeing him in-person affected me to my core,” read a victim’s statement aloud to the Vernon court by Crown prosecutor Margaret Cissellon on Sept. 10.
“Exposing this kind of abuse needs to be more mainstream in the Punjabi culture.”
Born in India, Klair came to Canada at the age of 13 when he was adopted by extended family. His lawyer Nicholas Jacob earlier described how Klair found it difficult to fit in, learn English and be accepted.
He worked at a grocery store from the age of 16 until 2018 when these allegations came about.
The former W.L. Seaton Secondary student obtained a bachelor of arts from Okanagan University College, where he also obtained a teaching certificate. He was an on-call teacher for 10 years in elementary schools.
A psychological report completed last month stated Klair presented an average risk to reoffend. Klair refused to discuss the evidence in question, likely on the advice of his lawyer.
Blok read part of the report, which said: “Given that almost 18 years have passed, this man has the skills necessary to live a non-offending lifestyle.”
Klair was found guilty in May of eight offences stemming from incidents in Vernon between 1999 and 2003.
Klair was found guilty on one count of sexual assault with a weapon, three counts of sexual assault, and four counts of sexual interference — one with a child under 16 and three with children under 14. A stay of proceedings was agreed upon between Crown and the defendant’s counsel for three sexual assault charges and one of the sexual interference charges.
Jacob also presented Blok with 41 letters supporting Klair as a kind, generous, responsible and trustworthy man, worker, father and husband.
“Some of the letters reflect disbelief for the guilty verdict,” Jacob said. “They find it unfathomable that he would behave in such a way.”
On top of his sentence, Klair will have to provide a DNA sample and register as a sex offender for life.
A weapons prohibition and communication ban with the victims was also issued.
Klair is also prohibited from being within 100 metres of any school, workplace or place of worship the victims may attend for five years and he must not seek employment or volunteer where he would be placed in a position of trust for anyone under 16.