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Former United World College teacher acquitted of molesting colleague’s wife due to ‘inconsistent’ evidence

SINGAPORE — Accused of molesting his colleague’s wife during a social event at the Singapore Cricket Club, Benjamin James Henry — an ex-teacher at the United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) — was cleared of the criminal charge on Friday (July 19).

The molestation was alleged to have taken place at a social event at Singapore Cricket Club but Mr Benjamin James Henry, 35, was acquitted on Friday (July 19).

The molestation was alleged to have taken place at a social event at Singapore Cricket Club but Mr Benjamin James Henry, 35, was acquitted on Friday (July 19).

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SINGAPORE — Accused of molesting his colleague’s wife during a social event at the Singapore Cricket Club, Benjamin James Henry — an ex-teacher at the United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) — was cleared of the criminal charge on Friday (July 19).

In acquitting the 35-year-old Briton, District Judge Jasvender Kaur found that his alleged victim was “evasive” on the witness stand during the trial.

She did not find it safe to convict Mr Henry as the prosecution had not established its case beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge added.

The accuser, a woman in her 50s who works in the healthcare sector, claimed that she was leaving the party on June 17, 2017 with her British husband when she felt a hand running down her back to her buttock.

She cannot be named due to a court gag order to protect her identity.

The contact purportedly lasted four to six seconds. She said she grabbed Mr Henry’s wrist and confronted him, who replied: “Get real, I am gay.”

District Judge Kaur noted on Friday that the woman’s “description has been inconsistent”, and she gave no explanations for “significant variations” in her evidence. She had testified that she only reacted a few seconds later as she was concentrating on who her husband was talking to.

“Her husband was merely exchanging pleasantries. I failed to see how she would have been distracted by such small talk that she would have not noticed an intrusive touch... It would have been natural for her to react when his hand went to her waist,” the judge said.

She also noted that Mr Henry was on her left at a crowded archway. He was making his way back to his table from the restroom, and had to squeeze through the crowd.

“In my view, the complainant in all probability must have perceived some form of bodily contact but it was unlikely to have been of the exact nature that she had described,” District Judge Kaur added.

“I also do not find it safe to accept her evidence that she held onto the accused’s wrist whilst it was still on her buttock. In my view, as she did not turn around before she grabbed the accused’s wrist, it is probable that the contact with her may not have been by the accused but by someone else in the crowd,” she said.

Mr Henry’s lawyer, Mr Raji Ramason, called several witnesses during the trial who testified that the woman appeared intoxicated that night.

A musician had observed her to be “quite drunk”, while another attendee said she had fallen into his partner and spilled wine on the other woman’s dress.

Another teacher from UWCSEA, Mr Joe McWilliams, testified that she was “slurring her words”. Mr McWilliams had approached the woman and her husband after the incident, insisting it was all a misunderstanding.

The woman, however, asserted that she had drunk only spritzers and was not intoxicated.

When questioned by the prosecution, she admitted she had not seen the alleged contact, and did not know if it was intentional or not. Her husband did not see what happened either.

“Had she not turned around, she would probably have made contact — not by the accused, but by someone else,” the judge noted.

Three days after the incident, the woman and Mr Henry attended a mediation session, which he thought resolved the matter. She said she had asked him for a written apology, but he refused to admit he had touched her.

The woman then made a police report about five months later. She testified that she did so because “friends had forsaken us, and (my husband) got no support” from the school’s management.

She added that she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident, had to receive psychiatric treatment and was put on sleeping and anxiety pills.

If convicted of using criminal force to outrage her modesty, Mr Henry could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or any combination of the three.

 

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