Sisters Salakshana, Jeeti and Kira Pooni with their mother, Narinder (left), in a family photo of them in Williams Lake, where they once lived. (submitted photo: NFB)

Sisters Salakshana, Jeeti and Kira Pooni with their mother, Narinder (left), in a family photo of them in Williams Lake, where they once lived. (submitted photo: NFB)

‘This journey is not over’: Pooni sisters’ sexual assault case heads to B.C. Court of Appeal

The case has been in the court system for years

The court process continues for sexual assault survivors Jeeti Pooni, her sisters and cousin.

Pooni announced last week that Crown counsel is appealing the stay of proceedings in the four women’s historic case stemming from when they experienced sexual abuse from an older male cousin while growing up in Williams Lake in a conservative, Indo-Canadian family.

“My emotions have been all over the place,” Jeeti said in a Twitter post Oct. 21 announcing Crown counsel’s decision to file an appeal. “The gratitude I feel opens up a flood of tears and uncertainty brings up another layer of healing.”

Jeeti, who now lives in the Lower Mainland, said the matter will be heard Nov. 5 in the B.C. Court of Appeal. She said if the court sides in their favour, the offender, who was found guilty on four of six charges in Williams Lake in April 2018 including two counts of indecent assault, one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual intercourse without consent, could be sentenced. If not, the stay of proceedings granted in June of 2019 due to court delays, will be upheld.

The women have pursued justice through the court system for the past 11 years, and have been the focus of the documentary Because We Are Girls about their experience as children, the secret they kept and the need to come forward to set an example for their daughters and for other women who experience sexual abuse.

“I take it day by day as it comes. My sisters and I, we were just these, you know, four brown girls, three of us are sisters and one is a cousin, and we rose, and we rose to break our silence and tell the truth and here we are, whatever it’s been thirteen plus years later, in this criminal justice systems’ journey, standing strong,” Jeeti said in a YouTube video discussing the case.

“This journey is not over.”

Jeeti said the case could drag on for another two or three years, however, she feels grateful to be ‘walking this path.’

An outspoken advocate, Pooni launched a petition at calling on Crown counsel to appeal the stay of proceedings which has garnered 53,324 signatures to date.

READ MORE: Shattering cultural stigmas: Three Punjabi-Canadian sisters tell their story of sexual violence

READ MORE: Surrey sister reacts to stayed charges in sex-assault case profiled in documentary

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