Music teacher in Singapore who molested teen during private lessons gets 21 months’ jail, one stroke of the cane

A music teacher who molested his then-18-year-old student during cello lessons plans to appeal against his conviction and sentence. — AFP file pic
A music teacher who molested his then-18-year-old student during cello lessons plans to appeal against his conviction and sentence. — AFP file pic

SINGAPORE, May 9 — A music teacher who molested his then-18-year-old student during two private cello lessons at a music school was jailed 21 months yesterday.

The 33-year-old Filipino, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, was also sentenced to one stroke of the cane.

His lawyer, Jonathan Cho, told the court that he intends to appeal against both his conviction and sentence. Pending the appeal, he remains out on bail — increased by the judge from S$15,000 to S$20,000.

In convicting the teacher last month, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt rejected the accused’s case that his classroom was small, and that those on the outside would have been able to see what was going on as there was a glass panel on every door.

The judge had found him guilty of four counts of outraging the modesty of his female Grade 3 student during two lessons in 2016. The man had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

District Judge Chay said then that molestation can occur “even in the most crowded of spaces, let alone a room”, and the victim’s “emotional outpouring” of the events to her mother was consistent with being molested.

In his sentencing submissions yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Marshall Lim referred to several aggravating factors, including a serious abuse of trust by the teacher.

The prosecutor also argued that the first offence was premeditated and involved deception, because the teacher had purported to instruct the victim on the proper mode of handling the cello before molesting her.

He then escalated his acts, DPP Lim said, by becoming “more daring” and making “a lewd request” by asking if he could unbuckle her bra on one occasion.

The victim, now aged 21, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder with depressed mood following the incidents, a medical report stated.

“The result of his predatory acts was immeasurable suffering caused to a young woman,’’ DPP Lim said in written sentencing submissions.

The victim said that the first incident took place on June 26, 2016, in a classroom of the unnamed music school.

The teacher told her that her cello was not placed correctly against her body. He had touched her chest for about a minute.

Although she felt the act was “weird”, she brushed it off, thinking that it was part of the teaching process.

However, his behaviour escalated during the next class the following week.

He placed his hand on her chest several times as he tried to show her the proper way to hold the cello, saying the instrument should not be touching her chest and shoulder areas.

He touched her under her shirt and bra twice, and invited her to sit on his chair between his legs.

He also rested his hand on her chest again after a toilet break, the victim said in her testimony.

During the trial, the accused claimed that the chair was too small to accommodate two people and that there was no reason for him to get close to the victim or touch her body.

He did not need to physically adjust her cello as she was pursuing Grade 3, which was a more advanced course. Verbal instructions were sufficient at this stage of learning, he had said in his defence.

DPP Lim sought a sentence of 21 months’ jail and one stroke of the cane — the penalty that has been imposed. — TODAY

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