Parents Write Open Letter to Maryland Gurdwara Over Sexual Abuse of Daughter by Granthi

Here is the open letter written on social media:

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

This is our response to the misrepresentations in the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (GGFS) Board of Directors’ statement posted on their Facebook page on Oct 1, 2020.

Time and again GGSF has failed us over the years. It has done so again with its Facebook Statement.

In 1996, even before coming to our home to talk with us for the first time, the GGSF Board had knowledge of Gurdarshan Singh’s arrest warrant and court notice(s); they knew of the serious allegations of sexual abuse of a minor against him. Indeed, the very reason GGSF Board representatives came to our home was to pressure us to withdraw the case. They never agreed to our request that Gurdarshan publicly apologize and acknowledge wrongdoing.

We rejected their offer of “Sikh-systems of conflict resolution” as we had no trust in the GGSF Board. The absurdity of the “punishment” Gurdarshan received when he went to the “Panj Pyare’” after his conviction shows our mistrust was well founded. The GGSF Board should have questioned Gurdarshan in our presence, brought the issue to the attention of the sangat, and investigated the allegations rather than protecting and supporting Gurdarshan without question.

Gurdarshan was charged with and arrested for Sex Offense in the Third Degree and Child Abuse by a Custodian. Gurdarshan pled guilty to Sex Offense in the Fourth Degree under a plea bargain and of his free will. The GGSF Board states that it did not know the full scope of the facts, but in fact, Rajwant was with Gurdarshan throughout the course of the case and also present in the courtroom for Gurdarshan’s sentencing. He had heard directly the serious nature of Gurdarshan’s abuse. Furthermore, even Sex Offense in the Fourth Degree involves sexual contact without consent, particularly between an older individual who holds a position of authority over an underage victim. Is the GGFS Board saying that it is okay for a grown Sikh leader to have sexual contact without consent with a 12-year-old child?

Within 5 years of his conviction, Gurdarshan Singh expunged his records.

The GGSF Board suppressed and mischaracterized the facts of the case and supported Gurdarshan Singh’s continued employment in the Gurdwara and his role teaching kirtan for 23 years, endangering hundreds of additional children. Additionally, Gurdarshan has yet to acknowledge his misconduct. How can he be expected to rehabilitate if he does not have the courage to confront the truth?

We had released our recent video statement in order to quell lies and rumors spreading through the Sikh community as an anonymous blogpost gained attention, to convey the truth, and in hopes that this becomes an opportunity for a conscious shift away from the kind of culture that for decades has attempted to cover up sexual abuse in order to maintain reputations.

Although we have little hope for GGSF leadership to be part of that moment, the Board has recently reached out to us indirectly through extended family to indicate they would like to move towards a resolution. This issue is now in the public arena and has gained traction only because of public pressure; it was ignored for months prior despite repeated outreach by extended family that shared greater detail about the abuse than what was shared in our video statement. Due to our painful past experiences in dealing with GGSF leadership we have no desire to engage in private meetings or negotiations of any kind. Additionally, in the interest of transparency and out of respect for those who have publicly supported this issue, our response to GGSF is public as well:

Our only demand has been that GGSF and Gurdarshan acknowledge the truth. We support all efforts made with honesty and transparency towards genuine reformation. We leave it to the GGSF sangat and larger Sikh community to determine what is appropriate, sufficient, and just in regards to GGSF leadership and actions needed to move forward. It is up to the Sikh panth to forge a path forward that addresses and protects our children from sexual misconduct that occurs within Sikh spaces.

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

Jaspal Singh and Satnam Kaur 

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