Jail for teacher in Singapore who molested love-struck student

The teacher pleaded guilty to three charges of committing indecent acts with a child or young person. — Reuters pic
The teacher pleaded guilty to three charges of committing indecent acts with a child or young person. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, July 13 — Besotted with her Physics teacher, the 15-year-old girl began exchanging WhatsApp messages with the 32-year-old.

Their conversations grew more explicit until he started physically taking advantage of her.

For his crimes, the teacher, who taught at a secondary school in the eastern side of Singapore, was sentenced to 16 months behind bars today.

The now 34-year-old pleaded guilty to three charges of committing indecent acts with a child or young person, with three other charges taken into consideration for sentencing. He cannot be named to protect his victim’s identity. It was not stated in court if he is married.

He was the victim’s Physics teacher in Secondary 1 and 2. The court heard that she became infatuated with him, and would work harder so she would not let him down.

In 2015, when she was in Secondary 2, they started chatting over WhatsApp after he gave out his mobile number at the start of the school term to arrange Physics consultations with his students.

She told him she wanted to become a Physics teacher like him, and sought his advice.

They soon progressed to talking through Skype video calls. Sometime before the year-end final term examinations, their conversations became more intimate and took on sexual overtones.

After the exams, he sent her an explicit text message, which she did not know how to react to. But she played along and soon, they began “sexting”, sometimes late into the night.

During their chats, he would ask her to take off her clothes. Sometimes, he asked her to take off her jacket so he could see her in her Physical Education T-shirt, as he admitted that seeing her in it turned him on.

In June 2016, when the victim was midway through Secondary 3, he started giving private tuition to her and her sister in their home weekly. It was not known who initiated the tuition arrangement.

Between Sept 6 and 8, 2016, he started getting more physical with her.

On Sept 6, after their lesson at about 2pm, he took her to East Coast Park to play the mobile game Pokemon Go.

While chatting in the car, he smacked her right thigh in response to a comment she made, before using the same hand to molest her. While she felt uncomfortable, she did not react as she did not know what to do.

He also admitted that he had the sudden temptation and desire to touch her privates, but felt it was not the right time to do so.

After a few minutes, they alighted and began walking around. When she refused his invitation to sit down at a bench, he made her sit on his lap, where he kissed and molested her again. After that, he drove her home.

The next day, at about 9.30am, he molested her once during their tuition lesson in her home. After that, they drove to East Coast Park, where he went further by touching her buttock area. He also repeated his actions on the park bench from the day before.

He then drove her to Pasir Ris Park, carried her up to the top of a slope, where they started kissing each other.

When they returned to his car sometime after 12pm, he kissed her on the lips, and tried to pull her hand to his crotch area a few times. She managed to pull away.

Later that evening, he messaged her to say he had a room available, and hinted at oral sex. Even though she started having negative feelings, she told him she would go.

The next morning, he picked her up and drove her to his home in Bishan, among other locations.

After she refused to enter his home, they went to Pasir Ris Park, where they held hands and played games with each other, while she sat on his lap. A police officer on patrol checked on them and alerted her parents, who lodged a police report the next day.

After they were found out, the teacher told her to delete their WhatsApp chat logs, and did the same himself.

Today, the court heard that the girl had not been in a relationship before, and that he was the first person to ever kiss her on the lips. Because of that, despite feeling scared and uncomfortable, she allowed him to continue.

He also revealed that while he had no feelings for her, he developed sexual temptation towards her.

Asking for 20 months’ imprisonment, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Mark Yeo said the teacher had abused the high level of trust that she had placed in him.

“The victim’s parents clearly trusted the accused enough to allow him into their home, believing that their daughters would be safe with him around. This trust was ultimately betrayed,” he added.

Furthermore, the teacher’s actions showed that “he intended to sexually exploit her as much as he could”. Even though he had not gone so far as to have sex with her or touch her private parts, he could and would have gone down that road, DPP Yeo said.

In his client’s defence, Mr Mervyn Cheong argued that the victim was close to 16 years old at the time of the offences. He added that the teacher had received a five-year long service teaching award.

In rebuttal, DPP Yeo said that while the victim was above 14 years old, the teacher knew she was infatuated with him and would have difficulty resisting.

TODAY has reached out to the Ministry of Education for comments.

The teacher could have been jailed up to five years and/or fined up to S$10,000 (RM29,600). — TODAY