Penang court sentences religious teacher to 24 years’ jail in serial sexual assault case

Abdul Mutalib pleaded guilty to the three charges under Section 14 read together with Section 16 of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017. — Reuters pic
Abdul Mutalib pleaded guilty to the three charges under Section 14 read together with Section 16 of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017. — Reuters pic

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 6 — Two separate Sessions Courts sentenced a religious teacher to a total of 24 years in jail after he admitted to three counts of sexual assault against his students.

The courts also sentenced Abdul Mutalib Hussain, 42, to six strokes of the rotan, two for each offence.

Sessions Court 1 judge Mazdi Abdul Hamid sentenced Abdul Mutalib to eight years’ jail with two strokes of the rotan after he admitted to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old primary school student in Sungai Ara between 2017 and 2018.

In another Sessions Court, judge Norsalha Hamzah sentenced him to eight years’ jail and two strokes of the rotan for each of the two sexual assault offences against two other students.

Abdul Mutalib had admitted to sexually assaulting an eight-year-old student and another 10-year-old student at the same school between February 2017 and July 2018.

However, Norsalha ordered him to serve the jail sentences concurrently so he will be serving a total eight years’ jail with six strokes of the rotan.

Abdul Mutalib had pleaded guilty to the three charges under Section 14 read together with Section 16 of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.

When delivering the sentence, Norsalha said it was a serious offence although Abdul Mutalib was a first offender.

“The court hopes the sentence will serve as a lesson to you, and as a deterrent to others, not to commit the same offence,” she said.

The religious teacher, who is married with five children, had previously claimed trial to the offences and was released on bail.

He changed his plea today during trial.

Counsel Muhammad Arif Shaharuddin, who represented Abdul Mutalib, told the court that the accused regretted his actions which led to his change in plea.

“His change in plea has saved court time so we hope the court will consider this when delivering the sentence,” he said.

He claimed his client was sexually abused when he was young and this had influenced his actions.

“He is remorseful for what he did and wants to take the right path in life,” he said.

The hearing of the cases against Abdul Mutalib began last December and the prosecution had called in six witnesses so far before the accused decided to change his plea.

Deputy public prosecutors Nurul Fatin Hussain and Nabila Huda Muhammad Nazim prosecuted the cases.

Abdul Mutalib was reportedly arrested in July 2018 after the victims’ parents lodged several police reports against him for molesting the children in class and the prayer room.

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