BRITISH COLUMBIA

B.C. man jailed for assaulting sex-trade workers including teen in 1994

05/06/2015 06:28 EDT | Updated 05/06/2016 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - A 46-year-old husband and father of two has been sentenced to a year in jail for historic crimes on Vancouver sex-trade workers, including a troubled teenaged girl.

Shalendra Sharma pleaded guilty to a May 26, 1994 sexual assault on the teen, as well as a 2011 assault and separate thefts on women who were either addicted to drugs or trying to earn money to support themselves.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes said in a ruling posted online Wednesday that the offences require a sentence that will emphasize denunciation, deterrence and rehabilitation.

"Society has to express its collective condemnation of violence towards and exploitation of sex-trade workers," Schultes said. "It is also important to send a message to (anyone) who might be inclined to act in this way towards vulnerable victims that they can expect to receive significant sentences."

His decision said the 15-year-old girl who was trying to support herself had been in foster care and was alternating between a parent's home.

Sharma paid her $200 for sex, but when she later withdrew her consent, he held her down on the back seat of his car and had sexual intercourse with her before dropping her off at a restaurant in Surrey, the document said.

All three thefts, to which Sharma pleaded guilty, occurred between July and November 2011. After the sex acts, Sharma drove off with the purses and belongings of each of the women aged 19 to 35, the ruling said.

In one case, Sharma didn't pay a 19-year-old woman, the ruling said.

Two of the women were working to support their drug addictions and one was a mother who carried photos of her child in her purse.

"The purse contained money, personal documents and photos of her infant child," Schultes said of the 27-year-old victim, adding her purse was recovered in Surrey.

Sharma's final guilty plea was for the Dec. 18, 2011 assault with a steering-wheel lock on a 35-year-old woman who demanded pre-payment for sex, the ruling said.

Schultes's ruling noted Sharma was sexually abused by an older female relative as a child, began using sex-trade workers around 1993 due to marital problems, was previously addicted to steroids and lost his job because of the charges.

"He explained his behaviour with some of the victims as stemming from not having had enough money to pay for the service, and said that he left them in a more remote area to avoid a scene arising from the lack of payment," Schultes said.

Sharma's wife of 25 years, and his son and daughter, remain supportive of him, the ruling said.

Upon release, Sharma has been ordered to serve three years' probation, complete a sex-offender treatment program, register as a sex offender and provide a DNA sample.