A prominent Brampton businessman has been sentenced to four months of house arrest for sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman two years ago.
Gurmeet “Bill” Bhangal, 47, was convicted last month of the Apr. 15, 2011, assault, which took place in a Mercedes SUV. An appeal has already been filed.
The victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was overcome by emotion as she read her impact statement to the court. The statement, read out instead by the Crown attorney, shared her struggle with uncontrollable anger and suicidal thoughts since the assault.
“I wanted to kill myself so badly, just so I didn’t have to feel nothing any more,” she wrote in the statement. “I feel worthless.”
She is also in debt. The woman was employed by Bhangal at the time of the assault.
“I had no motivation to find a job because I was so afraid it would happen again,” she said. To escape constant reminders of the incident she went to college, where she saw a counsellor and was treated for depression. But she couldn’t concentrate on her studies and dropped out.
“I feel like it will never end,” she said.
In rejecting the Crown’s request for a three-month jail sentence, plus two years probation, Justice Richard Schwarzl said the assault was a “reckless dalliance” that was “serious but not as serious as it could have been.”
The assault — where the victim was kissed and fondled beneath her clothes — caused no physical injury and no weapon was used, he said. But the emotional effects “are real, severe and long-term.”
The “breach of trust between employer and employee was exacerbated by the extreme age difference,” he added.
However, a sentence served in jail rather than under house arrest would be “disproportionate because of the good things (Bhangal) has done before and after his heinous crime,” he said, noting that Bhangal is considered a “citizen in good standing” with the community and is unlikely to reoffend.
Bhangal was also sentenced to 18 months’ probation, and, as is mandatory, will be placed on the sex offender registry and will submit a DNA sample to police.
Bhangal is married to Pam Hundal, a well-known Brampton lawyer who is the provincial Conservative party candidate in Brampton-Springdale and first vice-president of the Ontario PC Party.
She has twice run unsuccessfully for a seat in the Ontario legislature, first for the Bramalea-Gore-Malton riding in 2007 and the Brampton-Springdale riding in 2011.
Prior to that she assisted her father, Sam Hundal, in his many unsuccessful campaigns for office.
With files from San Grewal0