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4 years’ jail for teacher who molested male pupil on five occasions in school

SINGAPORE – A male teacher who molested an 11-year-old boy on five occasions in their primary school between 2017 and 2018 was sentenced to four years’ jail on Friday.

Before handing down the sentence, Senior District Judge Bala Reddy said he found that the 44-year-old teacher’s offences were not premeditated, and that they were instead random and opportunistic.

The judge also found that the victim had not been subjected to violence.

The prosecution had earlier urged the court to sentence the offender to between 54 and 66 months’ jail. It also asked for him to be given between five and 15 strokes of the cane.

Deputy public prosecutors Lim Ying Min and Angela Ang said that the teacher’s acts of abuse had affected the victim greatly.

“This impact also led to practical consequences in the victim’s life – from the loss of his love for (a uniformed group that the teacher had handled) to his unfortunate failure of his O-level examinations, as a result of the re-traumatisation he experienced in the course of trial,” they said.

In August, the teacher was convicted of five molestation charges after a trial. The offender, who cannot be named owing to a gag order to protect the victim’s identity, has been suspended from duty since November 2018.

In earlier proceedings, DPPs Lim and Ang said in their submissions that the victim has a fractured family history.

During the trial, the victim testified that his relationship with his stepfather was “not good”.

The prosecutors said: “The (stepfather) would beat and scold him… and would do so with his hand or his belt. The victim would end up with bruises on his face or belt marks on his arms as a result.”

They added that the victim was also not close to his mother, as she was focused on her newborn daughter.

In 2016, the boy joined a school uniformed group which the offender was in charge of. The victim started confiding in the teacher about his family problems the following year.

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The man then asked the boy if he wanted to be his godson and the child agreed.

The prosecutors said: “So close was their relationship that even the victim’s mother came to rely heavily on the accused in her efforts to manage the victim.”

However, she was unaware at the time about the godfather-godson relationship that the offender and victim agreed to.

During the trial, the victim testified that the teacher molested him for the first time in November 2017. The teacher targeted the boy four more times in 2018.

The offences came to light after the victim showed his brother a picture of the teacher, the court heard.

The brother jokingly remarked that the teacher looked “gay” and asked if the man had touched the victim. The victim turned silent before admitting that the teacher had molested him.

The brother told their uncle about the conversation, and the man alerted the victim’s mother.

She later contacted the victim’s form teacher and a police report was lodged soon after.

The teacher, who was represented by lawyer Gino Hardial Singh, had claimed that the victim had fabricated the molestations because he did not buy the boy a bicycle.

In their submissions, the prosecutors said that the teacher had earlier expressed every intention to buy the victim a bicycle as a gift.

The prosecutors added that the victim’s uncle had also testified that it was him and not the teacher who had disallowed the victim from accepting such a gift from the teacher as it was deemed to be too expensive.

In his mitigation, Mr Singh had asked the court to sentence the teacher to three years’ jail, and stressed that the offences were not premeditated.

The lawyer also said: “The touching did not involve any skin-to-skin contact (and) the duration of the said touches was fleetingly short as they lasted no more than a few seconds.”

On Friday, Mr Singh said that his client will be appealing against the conviction and sentence.

This is the second reported case this week about a teacher being sent to jail.

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In an unrelated case on Thursday, another male teacher, 38, was sentenced to 16 weeks’ jail after pleading guilty to an offence under the Protection from Harassment Act.

He had impersonated a female former colleague and created a social media account in her name in December 2018.

From then until February 2021, the man used the account to hold 589 conversations with different people, most of whom were current or former students of the school.

Of these conversations, 49 were sexual in nature.

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