Hindu Priest Charged With 2015 Sexual Assault At Surrey Temple

Rajpal Sharma was kicked out of a Surrey temple by the temple leadership this summer after they learned he apparently sexually assaulted a female worshiper at the temple. Sharma who lives in Delta has been charged with sexual assault dating back to January 2015. He was turned in to police by a Surrey Hindu temple he was working at in the summer of 2018.

SURREY  – Police have arrested a Hindu priest, who has been working in Lower Mainland temples for more than 20 years. He has been charged with sexual assault.

Rajpal Sharma was kicked out of a Surrey temple by leadership this summer after they learned he apparently sexually assaulted a female worshiper at the temple.

He was removed from his position and they brought the allegations to the police. Since then, he’s apparently been operating his own temple out of a garage in his Delta home.

Sharma has worked at two or more temples in Surrey, and one in Abbotsford, since the late 1990s.

Sharma is scheduled to make his first appearance in Surrey provincial court December 14 about an apparent assault that happened in Surrey in January 2015. Surrey temple considered 'sting operation' to catch Hindu priest charged with sexual assault: president

Sharma had been working at the Shree Mata Bhameshwari Durga Devi Mandir Society in Surrey, which kicked him out when sexual assault allegations surfaced, reported News 1130.

The temple had planned a ‘sting operation’ to catch a priest they suspected of sexually assaulting women.

Sharma has been a priest in the Lower Mainland for about 20 years, and was forced to leave the temple earlier this year after the president and committee confronted him about allegations of sexual assault. He was also apparently forced to leave two other temples: one in Surrey and one in Abbotsford. He is believed to still be providing religious services out of his Delta home.

Samarjit Parmar, the president of the Shree Mata Bhameshwari Durga Devi Mandir Society in Surrey told NEWS 1130 about how her organization addressed sexual assault allegations against their leader.

“I just froze. I could not…” says Parmar, trailing off, when she learned of the allegations by a former member.

She says some women at the temple planned a ‘sting operation’ to catch Sharma, but she decided to confront him herself instead. She said she was concerned such a dramatic intervention would be too shocking for him.

“I said I need to talk to him about this and ask him whether he did this or not to these women,” Parmar says. “He’s been with us since 2000, around there, and I never ever thought he was that type of person…I never thought he would do these things to these women, so I wanted to give him a chance to explain himself to me, before the committee.”

Parmar says it can be difficult for Hindu women to challenge someone in power, like a priest.

She says she hopes women can feel safe enough to come forward in cases of sexual assault.

Now a new priest is starting with the temple this week, and a new policy is in place to protect women.

She says the temple has installed security cameras throughout the building, and priests will not be permitted to meet with women alone to tell them their fortunes and give them advice.

 

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