Jail, caning for Singapore police officer who molested two women in custody

While interviewing a woman who was under arrest, Lee Sze Chiat took her to a room, locked the door, told her there were no closed-circuit television cameras in there and asked her to massage him. — Kristijan Arsov/Unsplash pic via TODAY
While interviewing a woman who was under arrest, Lee Sze Chiat took her to a room, locked the door, told her there were no closed-circuit television cameras in there and asked her to massage him. — Kristijan Arsov/Unsplash pic via TODAY

SINGAPORE, Nov 20 — He was not on duty that day but offered to help his colleagues to conduct investigative work.

However, rather than doing so, Lee Sze Chiat caressed the breasts of a woman who had been arrested on suspicion of providing paid sexual services. 

The senior investigation officer also asked her to provide him with “services” and got another woman to perform a sex act on him. The first victim made a police report a few days later.

The women, both Chinese nationals now aged 28 and 29 respectively, cannot be named due to a court order to protect their identities.

Lee, 39, was sentenced to one year behind bars and one stroke of the cane yesterday.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of molestation, as well as engaging in conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline under the Police Force Act.

Two other charges were taken into consideration for sentencing. 

Got woman to massage him

On December 6 in 2017, the two women were arrested and taken to the Jurong Police Divisional Headquarters.

The court heard that Lee held the rank of senior staff sergeant and was a senior investigation officer with the division at the time. 

He was not rostered or formally assigned to perform any investigative duties in relation to them that day. He had finished a training session that evening with the division’s basketball team when he learnt of the arrests.

The investigative team assigned to the case accepted Lee’s offer of help and forwarded the arrest report to him.

At about 11pm, Lee escorted the younger woman to an interview room in the basement. Her hands were handcuffed in front of her, while the window panel was covered with a black cloth.

He directed her to sit on the long bench in the room, closed the door behind him and interviewed her, asking her about her personal profile on a website advertising sexual services and the services she provided.

When he asked her to go over to the workstation where he was so that she could give him a massage, she refused.

Lee then locked the door, told her there were no closed-circuit television cameras in the room and presented his back to her, asking her to massage him.

While reluctant at first, she agreed and squeezed his shoulders twice, hoping that would appease him. She added that she was unable to carry on as her hands were handcuffed.

Made woman perform sex acts on him

Lee then turned around to face her, held her waist and “caressed her breasts from outside her T-shirt... for less than one minute,” Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Marshall Lim told the court.

Shocked, she raised her voice to tell him to stop and tried to move away. He then asked her to provide him with “services”.

Lee also pulled her T-shirt collar away from her neck to look at her breasts.

About an hour later, he concluded his interview with her and met his colleague, who was escorting the older woman back to the lockup area after taking a statement from her.

Lee offered to help complete certain investigative tasks, which the other officer accepted before handing over custody of the second victim.

Lee then took her to the interview room and later asked her to masturbate him. 

She ultimately complied because she did not want to turn down a request from a police officer. She also performed a sex act on him.

Five days later, on December 11, the first victim called the Police Cantonment Complex about an extension of her Special Pass, which is issued to a foreigner who is assisting in an investigation or attending court. She then met another policeman and told him what had happened, and he advised her to formally report the matter.

DPP Lim and DPP Niranjan Ranjakunalan called Lee’s conduct a “callous dereliction of duty,” saying that he had wilfully broken his oath to uphold the law.

During sentencing, District Judge Christopher Tan said that Lee had committed a serious abuse of trust, but took into account his plea of guilt despite the lack of video evidence.

“It cannot be ignored that she was under restraints when the act was perpetrated. What’s aggravating is that these restraints were actually physical strictures that the law empowers policemen to use to protect the innocent, but they were used to subjugate her to fulfil his desires,” the judge said.

Police starts disciplinary proceedings

In response to TODAY’s queries, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) reiterated that its officers “are not only expected to uphold the law but maintain the highest standards of conduct and integrity.” 

“We deal severely with officers who break the law, including charging them in court,” SPF said. 

It added that Lee had been interdicted from service since December 26, 2017. Following his conviction yesterday, disciplinary proceedings have started against him, SPF said. 

SPF also stressed that it takes the safety of arrested persons in police custody “very seriously”. “There are measures in place to ensure safe and fair treatment of all arrested persons in Police custody. This was an isolated case and does not represent the professional and disciplined conduct of the rest of our SPF officers,” SPF said. 

Adding that Lee had committed the offences by contravening police procedures, SPF reiterated that it takes a “zero tolerance approach to officers who break the law, and will not hesitate to take action against them in accordance with the law.” — TODAY

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