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SMU student’s lawyer claims alleged molest victim was willing participant in ‘playful banter’

SINGAPORE — On his second day cross-examining the alleged molestation victim of Singapore Management University (SMU) student Lee Yan Ru, his lawyer alleged that the 22-year-old woman was a willing participant in physical "banter” with Lee throughout the night.

SMU student Lee Yan Ru (pictured) has claimed trial to one charge of molesting a woman during an overnight study session.

SMU student Lee Yan Ru (pictured) has claimed trial to one charge of molesting a woman during an overnight study session.

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  • Lee Yan Ru’s lawyer said the woman’s account is “completely illogical” and contains “lies and half truths”
  • He said she could have easily retaliated if Lee had really offended her by any inappropriate physical contact
  • The “only possible explanation”, he said, is that their physical interactions were “playful banter”
  • The alleged victim maintained that there was no consent and nothing “playful” about their interactions

 

SINGAPORE — On his second day cross-examining the alleged molestation victim of Singapore Management University (SMU) student Lee Yan Ru, his lawyer alleged that the 22-year-old woman was a willing participant in physical "banter” with Lee throughout the night.

But the woman, whom Lee allegedly molested during an overnight study session, disagreed during her evidence on Wednesday (Sept 9) and said: “If I consented, why did I push him away (and) ask him to stop? If I consented, wouldn’t we have a good time instead of him ejaculating into my face while I was asleep?”

Lee, who is now 24, is accused of rubbing his private parts against the woman’s chest after she fell asleep in a university classroom at about 6.30am on Jan 8 last year, and has claimed trial to this single charge.

The court has heard that Lee had contacted the woman through the social media platform Instagram. They had about 20 mutual friends.

When taking the witness stand for the first time on Monday, the alleged victim, who is not an SMU student and cannot be named due to a court order protecting her identity, had testified that Lee made several unwelcome advances before the 6.30am incident became the final straw.

They included him allegedly putting his foot on her thigh “about three to five times”, squeezing her breasts under her bra after watching a movie on Netflix under a table, and trying to hold her down on a table and kiss her about three times.

She had also said that she “felt something quite warm on my thigh”, which she believed was his private parts resting on her thigh, but “did not want to look down and see anything” although this went on for up to five minutes.

‘PLAYFUL BANTER'

Upon further questioning by Lee’s lawyer, Mr Thong Chee Kun from Rajah & Tann, the woman told the court that at no point did she react “positively” to his advances as she had told him to “go away” and “stop it”, pushed him away, and moved away from him.

By not flaring up when he groped her, rubbed his private parts on her thigh and sat on her lap, she was giving him “three chances”, hoping that his behaviour would stop, she said. Furthermore, she did not think that they were that “grave” or “serious”, she said.

But calling her account “completely illogical” and “inherently incredible”, Mr Thong put it to her that what she had testified were just “lies and half truths”.

Among other things, he sought to poke holes in her account by asking how she could have brought herself to ask Lee what his first impression of her was during one of the smoke breaks that night when she was uncomfortable with many of his advances.

“(In relation to) all of the events you have highlighted so far, (you) said you felt uncomfortable. What I am saying is that you also engaged in the same playful banter,” he said.

He said this is the “only possible explanation” because she could have easily retaliated and gone home if Lee had really offended her due to any inappropriate physical contact.

The woman disagreed, saying “it wasn’t playful at all” and that she believed that she had retaliated by signalling to him numerous times and telling him to stop and go away.

Mr Thong later narrated Lee’s version of events to her — an account that she disagreed with on many points.

Lee had claimed that earlier in the night, he had placed his bare feet near her inner thigh and crotch area as part of a “playful exchange” where he playfully flipped his feet up and down her lap.

On occasions when his feet slipped off her lap, she would pick up his feet or foot and place them back on her lap, he claimed.

While they were watching the movie under the table, Lee was said to have placed his arm around her back to hold her right arm, and she did not move away.

He had also tickled her underarm, and she allegedly responded to one such tickle by “lightly flicking” him on his face. When he groped her, she allegedly giggled as well.

Lee’s account of the final incident, said Mr Thong, was that he woke her from her nap by groping her breast over her clothes before he pulled down his shorts and rubbed his private parts against her chest area over her clothes.

She then allegedly told him to stop, but he said to give him “a while more”, and he ejaculated about five to 10 seconds later. Some of his semen landed on her shoulder area.

But the alleged victim said that he was already masturbating while straddling her by the time she woke up and she told him to “get off (her)” and he replied, to her shock: “Wait.”

Lee will be giving his evidence in the next tranche of the trial. The dates will be set at a conference on Oct 7.

If found guilty of molestation, he could be jailed up to two years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of the three penalties.

In response to TODAY’s queries, an SMU spokesperson said on Thursday that the university had insufficient details of the incident before the trial began, and that its internal investigation and disciplinary proceedings are pending the outcome.

Lee remains a student of SMU in the meantime.

The spokesperson added: “If found to be guilty of student misconduct by the university, a range of sanctions, including suspension or expulsion, may be imposed on Lee depending on the severity of the misconduct disclosed.”

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SMU molest court crime Lee Yan Ru

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