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Civil engineer jailed 18 days for molesting woman on train

SINGAPORE — A civil engineer was jailed 18 days on Tuesday (Feb 9) for molesting a woman on an MRT train by scratching her inner thigh.

Shen Ruifu, 54, who holds a doctorate degree in geotechnical engineering from the National University of Singapore, pleaded guilty in a district court to one count of outrage of modesty.

Shen Ruifu, 54, who holds a doctorate degree in geotechnical engineering from the National University of Singapore, pleaded guilty in a district court to one count of outrage of modesty.

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SINGAPORE — A civil engineer was jailed 18 days on Tuesday (Feb 9) for molesting a woman on an MRT train by scratching her inner thigh. 

Shen Ruifu, 54, who holds a doctorate degree in geotechnical engineering from the National University of Singapore (NUS), pleaded guilty in a district court to one count of outrage of modesty.

The court heard that the offence was committed on Dec 12, 2018 at about 7.40am on a train on the North-South Line travelling from Ang Mo Kio to Bishan.

A 39-year-old woman standing next to Shen felt him scratching her inner thigh over her skirt. The woman, who cannot be named due to a court order to protect her identity, grabbed his hand and shouted for help. 

They alighted at Bishan MRT Station accompanied by another male commuter. Shen was handed to an SMRT staff member and the police arrested him.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Eugene Teh noted the seriousness of the offence given that it was committed on the public transport network and asked for three to four weeks’ jail.

Shen’s lawyer Raphael Louis from Ray Louis Law Corporation instead asked for a week’s jail, saying that Shen had penned an apology letter to the victim last September to express his remorse and regret over what had happened. 

He added that Shen did not specifically target the victim and that it was committed in the spur of the moment with no skin-to-skin contact. 

“I’m not in any way justifying or giving excuses or making light of the trauma the victim must have had. But these are legal nuances that I'd like to bring to the attention of the court,” Mr Louis said.

After the offence, Shen had made donations to the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), a gender equality advocacy group.

He left his work at NUS in 2015 and is listed online as being a senior consultant for engineering firm One Smart Engineering. 

Based on a brochure for an NUS lecture in 2014, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Tsinghua University in China, before getting a master’s degree and PhD in geotechnical engineering at NUS. 

He has published more than a dozen research papers and has received awards for his work.

Mr Louis highlighted that in the case of NUS student Terence Siow, who was sentenced to two weeks’ jail for molesting a 28-year-old woman on a train in 2018, Siow had two charges taken into consideration on top of the molest charge proceeded against him.

Shen, on the other hand, faced only one charge of molest and therefore should receive a lower sentence than Siow, Mr Louis said.

District Judge Marvin Bay, in his sentencing remarks, noted Shen’s contributions to the geotechnical sciences and construction sectors and replied that Shen was much older than the 24-year-old Siow and should therefore be held to a higher standard.

“There is a considerable difference in age, where Terence Siow was a fairly youthful offender, Dr Shen is an individual who is far more mature in years, and would certainly be expected to know better.”

For outrage of modesty, he could have been jailed up to two years, or fined, or caned, or any combination of these punishments.

Related topics

molest crime court mrt NUS

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