Groomsman found guilty of molesting, sexually assaulting bride in hotel suite on wedding night
- A groomsman got drunk during a wedding banquet in 2016
- He and other people in the bridal party then went to the bridal suite to drink some more
- He and the groom passed out in the living room area of the hotel suite and the bride went to sleep in the bedroom
- The bride woke up in the morning to find him touching her and thought it was her husband at first
- The accused has not been sentenced and will return to court in July
SINGAPORE — A 42-year-old man was found guilty on Monday (May 30) of molesting and sexually assaulting the wife of his newlywed friend on the couple’s wedding night in a hotel room suite.
The Singaporean, who was a groomsman during the wedding, claimed during the trial that he thought the victim was his own wife and that he was sleeping next to her at home.
Following several days of a trial that began in March 2020, he was convicted of one charge each of molestation and sexual assault.
None of the parties involved can be named due to a court order to protect the identity of the victim, who is now 39 years old. The media is not allowed to state the hotel’s name or the exact date the couple got married in 2016.
The couple, who dated for 11 years, got a divorce after the incident.
Principal District Judge Victor Yeo found that the victim and her ex-husband were credible and honest witnesses who had no reason to falsely implicate the accused.
The case turned on whether the victim’s account was sufficiently credible as opposed to the accused’s.
The judge then found that her testimony was “unusually convincing” — the threshold to convict an accused person of sexual offences.
DENIED TOUCHING VICTIM
The victim’s ex-husband testified in court that the accused was his colleague, and they were close friends for about eight years before the wedding day.
During the wedding banquet that evening, part of this friend’s job as a groomsman was to “help” the groom to drink alcohol when guests gave them toasts, so that the groom would not get too drunk.
When the banquet was over, several of the 10 groomsmen, including the accused, and some bridesmaids took the leftover alcohol to the bridal suite and continued drinking there. The bride did not join in but went to sleep instead.
The groom and the accused both fell asleep on separate sofas in the living room, which was separated from the bedroom by a sliding door.
The victim testified that she woke up at about 6am and felt someone caressing her chest, as well as someone sexually assaulting her. Thinking that it was her husband, she told him to take a shower but received no response.
The touching stopped for a while before continuing. She then touched the man’s lower leg and thought he was not her husband because he was wearing jeans.
However, she did not say anything, thinking no one else could be in bed with her and because the bedroom was very dark.
When she turned and saw the man’s face, she realised that it was “much bigger and rounder” than her husband’s. She asked him who he was but did not get a response.
Feeling afraid, she got out of bed and went to the suite’s living room to look for her husband, who was still asleep in his wedding suit on a two-seater sofa. The groomsman then emerged shirtless from the bedroom.
The victim soon confronted him about what he did. He denied it at first, but then admitted to touching her chest but swore he did not “touch her below”.
Her husband, awake by then, told him to leave. The couple then discussed what to do and she decided to make a police report that same morning.
TESTIMONY OF ACCUSED WAS NOT CREDIBLE
When testifying during the trial, the accused said that he thought he was asleep in bed at home and touching his wife. He outright denied sexually assaulting the victim.
However, District Judge Yeo noted that the accused’s own wife usually did not allow him to sleep in bed with her if he returned home after drinking and did not take a shower. He would usually sleep on the bedroom floor instead.
This was “inexplicable” and the accused gave no explanation for his alleged mistake, the judge said.
Instead, he had claimed it was his habit to caress his wife’s chest and that he realised it was someone else when the victim allegedly made a moaning sound.
The judge said that he was not a credible witness and his defence of mistaken identity was “unbelievable”.
District Judge Yeo also said that the groomsman’s behaviour, when confronted by the victim in the hotel room, was a “desperate excuse… to explain his actions”.
The version of events he gave in the suite’s living room was also inconsistent with his police statement. The judge found that he was not impressed with the man’s attempt to blame the investigation officer for incorrectly recording the statement.
The judge also did not rely much on the accused’s supposed sleeping disorder, saying that it was not entirely relevant. His lawyers, Mr Edmond Pereira and Ms Jessica Cheung, had argued that he sleepwalked from the suite’s living room to the bedroom.
On the other hand, District Judge Yeo found that the victim’s husband corroborated material aspects of her evidence, and that she had testified in an “honest and forthright manner”.
He noted that she was obviously traumatised over the incident, as observed by the investigation officer and the doctor who examined her afterwards.
The accused will return to court on July 21 for sentencing submissions. The prosecution told the court that he was jailed three months in 2002 for an offence of exhibiting or distributing obscene films.
For molestation, he could be jailed up to two years, fined, caned, or any combination of the three. For sexual assault by penetration, he could be jailed up to 20 years and fined or caned.