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10 months’ jail, caning for SMU student who molested woman during overnight study session

SINGAPORE — A Singapore Management University (SMU) undergraduate who molested a woman during an overnight study session on campus was sentenced on Monday (Oct 25) to 10 months' jail and three strokes of the cane.

Lee Yan Ru leaving the State Courts in April 2021. Lee’s lawyer said that he would be appealing against both the conviction and sentence.

Lee Yan Ru leaving the State Courts in April 2021. Lee’s lawyer said that he would be appealing against both the conviction and sentence.

  • Lee Yan Ru, 25, was sentenced to 10 months’ jail and three strokes of the cane
  • He was earlier convicted after trial of molesting a woman he met on Instagram
  • He invited her to an overnight study session at SMU in early 2019
  • Lee’s lawyer said he would be appealing against both the conviction and sentence

 

SINGAPORE — A Singapore Management University (SMU) undergraduate who molested a woman during an overnight study session on campus was sentenced on Monday (Oct 25) to 10 months' jail and three strokes of the cane.

Lee Yan Ru, 25, was earlier convicted after claiming trial of a single charge of using criminal force with the intent to outrage the victim’s modesty on Jan 8 in 2019 at 6.30am.

Lee was found by the court to have masturbated and ejaculated on top of the victim without her consent while she was asleep.

His lawyer told the court on Monday that Lee intends to appeal against both the conviction and the sentence. District Judge Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz granted a stay of execution of the sentence.

The victim, now aged about 24, cannot be named due to a court order to protect her identity. She was a university student at the time of the incident but did not study at SMU.

District Judge Sripathy-Shanaz agreed with the prosecution’s submission with regards to the appropriate sentence.

In rejecting the defence’s submission of probation or no more than six months’ jail, the judge said that she did not find Lee was remorseful.

However, the key consideration in sexual offences such as this case would be to deter the commission of such acts, the judge said.

She also rejected the defence’s plea that a heavy sentence may affect Lee’s ability to graduate from university.

“Quite simply, a person who breaches criminal law must expect to suffer the consequences that follow,” she said, adding that Lee will have to bear the “collateral consequences” of his acts.

“Rehabilitation will truly begin when he takes true responsibility for his actions.”

District Judge Sripathy-Shanaz also noted that Lee had wilfully persisted in his act despite the victim telling him to stop when she woke up.

“The circumstances showed that Mr Lee brazenly overrode the victim’s unequivocal rejection of his act and unabashedly continued to gratify himself.”

The defence had also argued that the incident was not a prolonged act.

However, the judge noted that Lee had admitted to rubbing his genitals on the victim for up to 25 seconds until ejaculation. The victim had estimated that the act lasted nine seconds, but the judge noted that this does not account for the period that she was asleep.

“It suffices to say, the offending act was not brief,” District Judge Sripathy-Shanaz said.

She also found that Lee sitting on her abdomen while committing the “audacious” acts constituted a form of restraint that effectively placed her in a position of forced submission on the ground, and which prevented her from simply walking away.

Lee was offered bail of S$20,000.

ABOUT THE CASE

Lee had met the victim through social media platform Instagram before inviting her a few days later to an overnight study session in a classroom at SMU in 2019.

The court previously heard that they were both dating someone else at the time.

Lee made several advances throughout the night, including putting his foot on her thigh, squeezing her breasts under her bra after watching a movie on Netflix under a table, and trying to hold her down on a table to kiss her thrice.

During trial, the victim testified that she had unequivocally rejected Lee’s advances through her body and verbal language.

She further told the court that she could not sleep for a few days and felt that she had been “used”, “disrespected and degraded” after the incident.

Lee, however, argued that he thought the pair were becoming more comfortable and intimate throughout the night and that the acts that entire night were consensual.

“I took it that she was fine with my advances, so when she said ‘stop’, I didn’t see it as ‘stop’ and carried on with what I was doing,” he had told the court.

For molestation, he could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or received any combination of the three penalties.

An SMU spokesperson told TODAY that Lee's candidature is currently under suspension.

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court crime molest SMU Instagram university

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