Joginder Singh Bains sexually abused Karamjeet Kour Singh on his dairy farm from age nine until she graduated in 1975
Joey Thompson, The Province
NELSON - By the time she turned the final page of the judge's ruling, Karamjeet Kour Singh couldn't make out the words for the tears streaming down her face.
Not only was the Nelson woman's evidence of a childhood torn asunder by a brutal, sexually abusive uncle believable, the judge went so far as to applaud her for sharing a private tragedy in a public courtroom so that others who suffered similar emotionally crippling incidents as kids would be emboldened to speak up.
It was soothing medicine for a woman who has been plagued by depression, anxiety, nightmares and troubled relationships for the past 40 years.
"To have the judge believe me, to have someone say he was wrong to do what he did is worth a trillion dollars," said the mother of two, who goes by Vicki Waters.
"Thanksgiving was the best I've had."
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Nancy Morrison found Joginder Singh Bains, 76-year-old retired farmer and an esteemed priest in the extensive Sikh community in the Fraser Valley, had repeatedly assaulted Waters, including oral and anal sex, on his dairy farm from the time she was nine until she graduated in 1975.
She accepted Waters' testimony that the farmer was a bully and a tyrant who frequently slapped and pushed the kids.
She said Bain's wife, Darshan, was also liable because she dismissed her little niece's pleas to intervene to stop the abuse.
"She had knowledge of the sexual assaults, and the continuing danger to the plaintiff, [and] did nothing . . ."
Morrison rejected the testimony of the Bains and their two sons, who flatly denied all Waters' allegations, including the fact she and her brother lived and worked on the Chilliwack estate after their mother was killed in a car crash in 1966.
"There is no question that the trial judge must scrutinize and weigh evidence with the greatest of care when allegations are as serious as they are in this particular case," she wrote.
"The evidence as a whole leads to no other conclusion: The plaintiff is telling the truth and must be believed."
Lawyers for both sides will now begin the task of tallying up the damages for Waters' pain and suffering, and lost wages, as well as counselling and recovery costs.
One of the most on-target B.C. court awards for extensive physical and sexual abuse was handed down in 1996. The plaintiff was awarded $300,000 for general damages, which was subsequently lowered to $250,000 by the Court of Appeal.
But that was more than 10 years ago, Nelson lawyer Fred Easton noted. The amount of damages is likely to go upward. Factor in wage loss and other compensations over the years and the suit could top $500,000.
Bains, one of seven children, arrived from India in 1961 with a religious degree in the Punjabi language, which earned him the respected East Indian title of giani. He worked two successful dairy farms and bought multiple properties over the years.
Waters said once she launched the public lawsuit her prominent relatives disowned her and made her an outcast.
But Morrison praised her courage.
"It is clear she not only wants to obtain justice in her own case but also to serve as an example to others who may not be as willing to go through the trauma and uncertainty," Morrison wrote.
"She also seeks an end to the anxiety, shame and humiliation that she has experienced and believes it is important for her own healing to be able to speak freely. It is important for her to speak out for the benefit of others who may be experiencing the same trauma.