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Basketball coach, 57, accused of performing sex acts on teen

SINGAPORE — Unknown to their parents or schools, some students went to the condominium of their basketball coach for personal training. While the students — who were there alone or in groups — exercised in his master bedroom, he would watch television.

The State Courts. TODAY file photo.

The State Courts. TODAY file photo.

SINGAPORE — Unknown to their parents or schools, some students went to the condominium of their basketball coach for personal training. While the students — who were there alone or in groups — exercised in his master bedroom, he would watch television.

Some time in 2013, the coach allegedly sodomised and performed oral sex on a 13-year-old boy in the bedroom.

The coach, who cannot be named to protect his victim’s identity, has been hauled to court for two counts of sexual penetration. After a five-day trial held over five months this year, the prosecution and defence made their closing submissions on Friday (Nov 17).

District Judge Mathew Joseph will deliver the verdict on the case on Dec 8.

Court documents showed that the 57-year-old suspect was a part-time basketball coach in secondary schools and community centres. He held a full-time job as a director in a family-run business.

Shortly after the victim entered secondary school and joined the basketball team in 2013, the accused paid extra attention to the boy, buying him a pair of basketball shoes, driving him from school to his condominium for one-on-one coaching, and inviting him on fishing trips.

Few students were given such special treatment. The coach claimed that the boys initiated the request to train at his condo and he offered to teach just six to seven of them personally that year.

On the day of the alleged incident in July or August, the victim had completed a set of jumping exercises when the coach carried him to the bed and sodomised him.

On another occasion, he was said to have covered the victim’s eyes with a pillow and performed oral sex on him.

The matter came to light only in February 2015, when the victim asked his mother to accompany him for a medical examination for HIV. He broke down and told her about the sexual encounter with the coach.

A police report was filed, and in the first information report made, the victim, now a 17-year-old polytechnic student, admitted that there was a relationship “going on” between the two of them.

A medical examination showed no signs of penetration, due to the lapse of time between the alleged offence and the check-up.

Defence counsel Ragbir Singh Bajwa took issue with the delay in reporting. “It is incontrovertible that he was aware that the accused had allegedly done something bad to him. Yet he continued to go back to the accused’s condo and on fishing trips with him. This is simply illogical,” he said on Friday.

However, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Gail Wong pointed out that the victim had kept mum for various reasons, including a lack of awareness over the propriety of his coach’s actions.

He decided to spill the beans only after reading about HIV online, she said.

On the other hand, the coach had exhibited questionable behaviour, she added. He would allow the students to train at his house “whenever they were free”, and had not kept track of the frequency of these personal training sessions.

DPP Wong said: “Given his dodgy conduct of the... training, the prosecution invites the court to draw the reasonable inference that the accused used the training as a bait for young students like the victim to go to his home, which was a place over which he had control, and there was then every opportunity for the accused to violate unfortunate young students like the victim.”

If found guilty, the coach could be jailed up to 20 years and fined. No caning can be imposed as he is above the age of 50.

Two charges under the Children and Young Persons Act — in relation to another youth he coached — have been stood down for the time being.

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