A Mission man has been convicted of sexual assault for kissing his tenant and touching her breast without her consent in 2013.
Dilbagh Singh Cheema, 52, was also found guilty of assault for a second incident in which he kissed the woman.
The ruling was made Nov. 30 in Abbotsford provincial court. Cheema’s sentencing hearing has been scheduled for March 16.
The court heard that the complainant met Cheema in September 2013 when she began renting a property of his.
She testified that shortly after she moved in, Cheema phoned her and wanted to see her suite, which she believed was for a “move-in report.”
The woman said that as she was telling him about a closet door that needed repairing, Cheema unexpectedly kissed her and told her she was pretty.
She said she “backed off and froze,” and Cheema then grabbed her and touched her breast.
The woman testified that she was not romantically interested in Cheema and had never been flirtatious with him.
A second incident of inappropriate conduct took place about two weeks later. On this occasion, the tenant saw Cheema outside looking at something on the property before he knocked on her door.
She said she brought Cheema into the bedroom to look at the closet that was broken, and he closed the door and kissed her on the lips.
The woman quickly left the room and, after Cheema left, told her visiting niece what had happened. Her niece suggested she report the circumstances to police, but the woman said she was worried she would be evicted if she did.
“But she was convinced to report the incidents and she did in fact receive an eviction notice two days after she gave a statement to police about these incidents,” Judge Kenneth Skilnick stated in his written ruling.
Cheema’s lawyer suggested in court that the woman and Cheema had an intimate relationship, but the complainant adamantly denied this, and Skilnick said there was no evidence to back up the assertion.
Skilnick said he found the woman to be a credible witness.
“Time and time again in her evidence, she did not waver from the fact that she had no romantic interest in the accused, she never flirted with him and she never consented to the accused taking the liberties with her that he did,” the judge stated.
Skilnick said that Cheema, as a landlord, had been in a position of power over the tenant, and that his behaviour had violated her “sexual integrity.”
“She was entitled to trust him not to make her living space unsafe for her,” Skilnick said.