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SINGAPORE, April 6 — While working in a primary school as an operations support officer, Chong Choon Ying took a liking to a Primary 3 pupil and began hugging him on several occasions.
He then molested the eight-year-old boy twice.
It took two years for the victim to muster up the courage to tell his father what had happened.
Chong, 48, was sentenced to one year and two months’ jail and one stroke of the cane today for his actions.
The Singaporean pleaded guilty to one count of molesting a minor under 14, with a second charge taken into consideration for sentencing. He began serving his sentence immediately.
The court heard that Chong worked at the boy’s primary school, located in the central region of Singapore.
Neither the boy, now aged 11, nor the school can be named due to a court order to protect his identity.
Based on a description found on the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s website, Chong’s job was a non-teaching role which involved maintaining the general cleanliness of the school and providing logistical and administrative support.
Investigations revealed that the boy often saw Chong performing maintenance work and locking up classrooms after school hours.
Chong took a liking to the boy in January 2017 and said that he found him “cute and adorable”, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Heershan Kaur told the court.
The man hugged the victim on numerous occasions between January 2017 and mid-2018 when the boy was alone.
Sometime between January and March 2017, Chong saw the boy wandering aimlessly in the school compound by himself.
He approached the boy and asked for a hug while outstretching his arms and gesturing for the boy to come closer.
The boy went over and Chong subsequently wrapped his hand around the boy’s shoulders and touched the boy’s groin over his shorts.
The victim did not immediately report Chong to his teachers or parents because he did not think anyone would believe him.
He finally confided in his father on Jan 20, 2019. The school authorities were alerted and the school’s vice-principal lodged a police report three days later.
Chong was arrested on Jan 29, 2019.
Judge: ‘Serious offence’ as victim was very young
DPP Kaur sought at least 18 months’ jail and three strokes of the cane, saying Chong’s actions were “repugnant and deplorable”.
She argued that he had abused his position of trust and showed premeditation.
While there was no victim impact statement tendered in court, DPP Kaur pointed out that it took the victim two years to tell his father about the incidents.
“He should have been focusing on education and play but he was instead agonising over these acts — whether to come clean and tell his father,” the prosecutor said.
Chong’s lawyer David Nayar responded that while he was not downplaying the offence, there was “no medical report and no psychological indication that (the victim) suffered any form of severe trauma”.
In sentencing Chong, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt noted that it was a “serious offence” as the boy was a “very young student”.
The judge added that he would not place much weight on Chong hugging the boy on several occasions as the statement of facts only indicated hugging and not groping.
For molestation of a minor, Chong could have been jailed for up to five years, fined, caned, or received any combination of the three. — TODAY