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This article was published 19/8/2009 (3713 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THREE Sikh priests have been ordered to stand trial for allegedly sexually abusing a young boy for years in a bizarre case that has divided their community.
Bakhshish Singh, 49; Kuljit Singh, 45; and Dalbag Singh, 39, learned their fate following a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
A judge ruled there is sufficient evidence to move the case forward.
A court-ordered ban prevents details of from being published.
Police began investigating in December 2006 after the three priests were kidnapped from Gurdwara Nanaksar, located on St. David Road in St. Vital.
A 26-year-old stormed inside the temple and confronted the trio for allegedly molesting him from the time he was eight years old until he was 15.
He was armed with a ceremonial sword, which he maintains he was carrying out of religious tradition, and not as a threatening weapon.
The man forced the priests into a vehicle and drove them to his parents' home, where he hoped to have them admit to the alleged sexual abuse while his mother and sister listened.
Police were called and eventually laid numerous charges against all of the parties.
The alleged sex assault victim pleaded guilty to his role last year and was given a suspended sentence and probation.
Crown attorney Melinda Murray said the disturbing case has shocked the Sikh community.
"It's clear to me there's been a division within the Sikh temple and the community.... There are sides being taken, a big discussion and it's become quite difficult for both sides," she told court.
Gurdwara Nanaksar is one of only 17 temples of its kind in the world. It's associated with a specific Sikh sect, Nanaksar Satsang Sabha.
There are about 300 members in Winnipeg. Priests at the temple are expected to be celibate, and from as young as age eight lead a monastic life of meditation and prayer.
Defence lawyer Kathy Bueti told court her client claims to have been sexually assaulted at least 100 times by the priests on an almost daily basis.
She asked the court to take his emotional state into account when sentencing the man for kidnapping.
"He dealt with that and didn't tell a soul. This was the first day he was going to tell another human being on earth what had happened," she said.
Provincial court Judge Catherine Carlson said while she noted the remorse shown by the man and his compliance with court orders since he was charged, she couldn't send a message condoning vigilante justice.
"The courts simply cannot sanction individuals, even individuals who themselves may be victims of horrendous crimes, taking the law in any way into their own hands and confronting their alleged perpetrators," Carlson said.
The three priests remain free on bail. The charges involved alleged incidents between 1990 and 1996.
No trial date has been set.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.