Law firm managing partner fined S$15,000 for molesting 3 women in bar, gets fired
SINGAPORE — Intoxicated after having drinks with his clients, Devandran Karunakaran molested three women — including a disc jockey — in a bar last year. His position as managing partner of law firm Ince Singapore has since been terminated.
SINGAPORE — Intoxicated after having drinks with his clients, Devandran Karunakaran molested three women — including a disc jockey — in a bar last year.
When the bar manager came over to find out what had happened, Karunakaran hurled vulgarities at him and said he was a lawyer, threatening to get the other man in trouble.
For his actions, the former managing partner of law firm Ince Singapore was sentenced to a fine of S$15,000 in a district court on Tuesday (Nov 19).
The 40-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty to three molestation charges and causing distress to the bar manager, with another three charges considered for sentencing.
According to his LinkedIn page, he specialises in shipping finance and used to practise in the firm’s London office.
All of his victims cannot be named due to a court order to protect their identities. They were identified in court documents as:
Ms H, 48, who works in the sales industry
Ms P, 28, a DJ in various nightclubs who was working at the bar that evening
Ms K, 30, who works in the marketing division of a nightclub
Mr D, 34, the bar manager
According to an Ince spokesperson on Thursday (Nov 21), Karunakaran's position at the firm has been "terminated with immediate effect" following the court's decision.
"We take the behaviour and ethical conduct of all of the group’s partners and staff extremely seriously," the firm added.
‘DON’T TOUCH ME’
The court heard that on May 16 last year, Karunakaran drank alcohol with two clients at Asia Square before going to a bar to continue drinking. The location of the bar was redacted.
Ms H was alone at the bar, while Ms P and Ms K were friends.
At about 11pm, Karunakaran walked towards Ms H and stroked his hands up and down her back and waist. Court documents showed that he did this a total of three times.
Ms H moved away and shouted: “Don’t touch me!” Karunakaran merely muttered incoherently and walked towards the bar’s upper level.
About half an hour later, Ms P and Ms K were standing near the makeshift DJ stand at the upper level when Karunakaran approached them and stood in between them.
He put one arm on Ms P’s shoulder and his other hand on Ms K’s waist. He then said: “Hey! What’s up?”
Ms P tried to shrug his arm off, but he stroked her body from shoulder to waist instead.
He also used his other hand to stroke Ms K’s body from her waist to her buttock.
Ms P immediately moved aside and pushed his arm away, then removed her DJ headset and walked off. Ms K waved at another bar employee for help.
When the employee told Karunakaran that his behaviour was unacceptable and asked him to leave the DJ stand, he ignored him and turned to Ms K again, attempting to talk to her and trying to pull her towards him.
Ms K pushed him and the employee escorted him away, telling the bartender to inform Mr D — the bar manager — of the situation.
Mr D rushed over and Ms H told him that Karunakaran had molested her thrice that night.
The bar manager confronted Karunakaran about the accusations, and he replied: “F*** you mate, who is the one who say I touched her?”
When Mr D asked him to calm down, Karunakaran insisted that he did not do anything and said: “What are you going to do?”
Karunakaran also said he would not leave when Mr D advised him to finish his drinks and leave the bar.
“He asked Mr D if he knew who he was. He threatened to make Mr D lose his job. He also said he was a lawyer,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Yen Seow told the court.
Mr D proceeded to escort Karunakaran out of the bar with the help of a security officer. Karunakaran told Mr D: “F*** you mate” at least 10 times and insisted on returning to drink some more.
Police officers arrived at about 12.20am and arrested him.
For each molestation charge, he could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or any combination of the three.
For uttering threatening and abusive words at Mr D with intent to cause distress to him, he could have been fined up to S$5,000, jailed up to six months or both.