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Cleric guilty of sex attack on 12-year-old girl at temple

Surinder Singh was accused of touching the girl's face and hands and trying to kiss her on the lips at Guru Nanak Sikh Temple.

Temple: Cleric guilty of touching 12-year-old inappropriately.

A Sikh cleric has been convicted of a sex attack on a 12-year-old girl in his room at a temple.

Surinder Singh tried to kiss the youngster and touch her face and hands at the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Glasgow's west end on January 15 this year.

The 53 year-old also tried to put cashew nuts into her mouth. The girl said she felt "very dirty" after the incident.

Singh, who was visiting Scotland at the time, was found guilty of assaulting the child after a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

The court heard how the girl had been at the Otago Street temple at a religious event reciting prayers when she was asked to Singh's room where he would teach her classical music on the harmonium.

She told the court that while practicing the instrument in the room, described as being "like a bedroom", the father-of-four put a cashew nut in her mouth. The girl said that she thought that this was something "holy"

The court heard the girl left the room to serve food but later returned and continued practising the instrument while sitting on the bed.

The witness said: "He started putting his hands on my face and saying 'You have a beautiful face'."

Prosecutor Joe Stewart asked the girl: "How did you feel when he was touching your arms and touching your face?"

She answered: "I sort of suspected he was doing something dirty."

The witness then told the court: "After that he tried to kiss me on the lips , I turned my face away. I felt very dirty."

The witness told the court that after she finished playing the instrument, Singh took her hand while sitting on the bed and told her they were ônow friendsö.

The court heard the girl immediately told a family friend and her dad after leaving the room.

In his evidence, Singh said the young girl approached him and said she wanted to learn the classical music.

He said he told her there was only space to teach her in his room and that she would have to ask her parents for permission.

Defence lawyer Paul Reid asked Singh if he touched her while teaching her how to play. Singh said: "Sometimes the fingers will touch but not with the wrong intention."

He denied he later told the young girl she had a beautiful face but admitted he did "throw" a nut in her mouth without touching her as she played.

The court heard at the end of the lesson before she left he pointed out the mistakes she had made. He said: "I kissed her on the cheek."

The court was told Singh did not know it was against the law in this country to kiss young girls.

Singh added that it was not possible for him to try and kiss her on the lips and that his intention was to kiss her cheek.

The married priest said it seemed to him the girl was lying in her evidence.

Sheriff Anthony Deutch told Singh: "I find the evidence of the crown witnesses to be both credible and reliable and reject your evidence as incredible, therefore find you guilty.

Sentence was deferred until next month.

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