Anoop Singh Klair leaves the Vernon Courthouse Friday, Sept. 10 during a break from sentencing. (Morning Star)

Former Vernon teacher faces up to 7 years in prison for sex crimes against children

Crown seeking 7 years behind bars for Anoop Singh Klair; defence suggests 2 years house arrest

A Coldstream man found guilty of sex crimes against children is expected to face his sentence Wednesday, Sept. 15.

Anoop Singh Klair, 40, 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.

Next week, the former teacher is expected to be sentenced.

Sitting in the prisoners’ box, Klair was present as his adoptive parents sat in the gallery above him. They were among a dozen people attending the sentencing.

“For too long, the boogeyman didn’t just haunt my nightmares but seeing him in-person affected me to my core,” said one of the four victims in a written statement read aloud to the court by Crown prosecutor Margaret Cissell Friday.

“Exposing this kind of abuse needs to be more mainstream in the Punjabi culture.”

The crimes took place against children between the ages of eight and 13. Klair was in his late teens and early 20s.

The Crown is looking to put Klair behind bars for five to seven years along with several ancillary orders, including his becoming a registered sex offender and a five-year prohibition of being near parks or places with children upon his release.

“Our position is that the accused, as an adult, was totally responsible for his actions,” Cissell said.

Klair’s lawyer Nicholas Jacob is seeking a sentence of two years of house arrest plus three years probation.

Jacob presented B.C. Supreme Court Justice Murray Blok with dozens of support letters for Klair, a husband and father of two children.

They included character references from family, friends, former coworkers and employers, and even a former student, citing Klair as a hardworking man dedicated to his wife and children.

“Some of the letters reflect disbelief for the guilty verdict,” Jacob said. “They find it unfathomable that he would behave in such a way.”

Klair was born in India and came to Canada at the age of 13 when he was adopted. Jacob described how Klair found it difficult to fit in, learn English and be accepted.

He worked at Safeway from the age of 16 until 2018, when these allegations came about. He is a former W.L. Seaton Secondary student and 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.

The allegations led to the Ministry of Children and Family Development investigating Klair and interviewing his children. According to Jacob, the ministry found no risk identified to the children. Klair also completed a sexual abuse intervention program and has agreed to complete any additional programming assigned by the court.

“He now works low-paying jobs at a convenience store and vegetable processing plant,” Jacob said, adding Klair has spent the past three years without breaching his bail conditions.

A psychological report completed last month stated Klair presented an average risk to reoffend.

A stay of proceedings has been agreed upon between Crown and the defendant’s counsel for the three sexual assault charges and one of the sexual interference charges.

READ MORE: Former Vernon teacher found guilty of historic sex crimes against minors

READ MORE: Alleged victim testifies about sexual assault in Vernon teacher’s trial

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Vernon Morning Star