A Surrey man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old in 1994 has been sentenced to just over a year in prison.
Shalendra Kumar Sharma also pleaded guilty to three thefts – one in 2001 and two in 2011 – as well as assault causing bodily harm related to a 2011 incident.
All of the offences took place in Burnaby and all of the victims were sex-trade workers.
Sharma, 46, was initially charged in February 2012 with four sexual assaults, as well four counts of confinement, one of kidnapping and two of uttering threats.
According to court documents, the sex assault he admitted to involved a teenage female from a troubled background who was soliciting in Vancouver. Sharma approached her in his car, they made an arrangement for paid sex and she got in his vehicle. Part way through their interaction, she decided she didn’t want to continue.
Sharma said he’d drive her home, but stopped his car behind a gas station and forced himself on her. He told the teen not to tell anyone and dropped her off at a Surrey restaurant.
In the three subsequent thefts to which he pleaded guilty, Sharma had sexual relations with three different women, then drove away with their purses and personal belongings in the car.
The final incident, which occurred in December 2012, involved a 32-year-old woman who worked in the sex trade to support her drug addiction. She got in Sharma’s car after the two had made a cash-for-sex agreement, but Sharma became angry when the woman wanted to be paid in advance. The two got out of the car – the woman with a window scraper and Sharma with a steering wheel lock. Sharma chased her and struck her with the lock, fracturing her wrist.
In his reasons for sentence last month, which were posted online this week, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes said it was obvious the teen’s sexual assault was the most serious of the offences.
“On the spectrum of different ways of committing sexual assaults, forced sexual intercourse is among the most intrusive kinds of behaviour captured by that offence,” said Schultes.
He said mitigating factors in sentencing Sharma included his being assessed at a low-to-moderate risk to re-offend and his lack of a prior criminal record.
Aggravating factors included the vulnerability of the victims and the persistence of Sharma’s behaviour over a lengthy period of time.
“Society has to express its collective condemnation of violence towards and exploitation of sex‑trade workers,” said Schultes. “It is also important to send a message to any who might be inclined to act in this way towards vulnerable victims that they can expect to receive significant sentences.”
However, he said, Sharma shows good prospect of rehabilitation and appears motivated to seek treatment.
The judge sentenced Sharma to 11 months for the sex assault, one month for the assault causing bodily harm and five days each for the three thefts.
His sentence will be followed by three years probation and he must register as a sex offender.