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Teacher accused of molesting boy testifies he only meant to ‘check his injured body part’

SINGAPORE — A primary school teacher accused of molesting his former student claimed in court that while he had indeed touched the boy’s genitals over his shorts, his intention was only to check on an injured body part.

The 35-year-old teacher said he merely shared a father-son relationship with the 12-year-old boy. He has been charged with molesting the boy three times within two days in 2017.

The 35-year-old teacher said he merely shared a father-son relationship with the 12-year-old boy. He has been charged with molesting the boy three times within two days in 2017.

  • A primary school teacher is accused of molesting a boy, then aged 12, three times in 2017
  • He allegedly committed the offences after the boy had moved on to secondary school
  • He took the stand on Tuesday, denying that he intended to molest or had molested his former student
  • He also denied kissing him at a McDonald’s outlet, contrary to what another witness earlier testified

 

SINGAPORE — A primary school teacher accused of molesting his former student claimed in court that while he had indeed touched the boy’s genitals over his shorts, his intention was only to check on an injured body part.

The 35-year-old man gave this version of events in a district court on Tuesday (March 2) while testifying in his ongoing molestation trial.

He is contesting three charges of molesting or trying to molest the boy in his home on June 15 and 16, 2017.

He had allegedly first tapped the boy’s genitals over his shorts, then later on the same day purportedly inserted his hand into the boy’s underwear and shorts to touch his genitals. 

He is also accused of trying to touch the boy’s crotch again the next morning.

The man first took the stand as a defence witness on Monday, telling the court that his act of tapping the boy’s genitals over his shorts was merely to “check on his injured body part”. 

He denied that the other two incidents happened at all.

The man also said that he merely shared a “father-son relationship” with the alleged victim. 

He became the boy’s form teacher in 2016, when the boy was in Primary 6, and allegedly committed the offences after the boy had moved on to secondary school.

Neither can be named due to a court order to protect the identity of the boy, now aged 16. The man has been suspended from service since July 2017 and no longer teaches in any school.

The boy’s mother, who is divorced and the sole breadwinner of their family, had previously testified as a prosecution witness.  

She told the court that the man had grown to be like their family member, lending her money on several occasions and even taken on the role of the boy’s guardian, giving him free tuition lessons.

The boy had been on a financial assistance scheme in primary school.

However, his mother claimed that she subsequently began noticing warning signs, especially when her supervisor told her she had seen the man hugging and kissing the boy in public.

MAN ASKED IF HE COULD SLEEP ON BOY’S LAP

On Monday, the man’s lawyer, Mr Kalaithasan Karuppaya, took him through several series of WhatsApp text messages between him and the boy.

Once, he texted the boy: “Good afternoon precious son” and got a reply of “Good afternoon precious dad”. He testified that the boy usually responded in kind if he used a certain special word like “precious” or “love you so much”.

He told the court that this was in the context of a father-son relationship.

Another time, the man also asked the boy if he could sleep on his lap. The man sought to explain in court that this was “for a moment of comfort”, as he was suffering from a painful sore throat and fever.

However, the man said that later down the road, he was growing tired of constantly arguing with his former student.

He added: “I felt on many occasions that when I was helping him and trying to resolve his girlfriend issues, there were moments of broken trust. I felt I was trying to make things right and the mother was just standing on the side and watching… At that point of time, I also felt I was being made use of financially by the family.”

‘CAN YOU STOP TOUCHING ME?’

On June 19, 2017 — a few days after the alleged molestations — they exchanged more text messages. This time, the boy asked the man: “Can you stop touching my (private part)?”

The man testified that he thought this was over an incident where he “barely touched the top of the bulge of (the boy’s) shorts”. 

“I was puzzled because I asked for permission. It was not forcefully or with any wrong intention, going to do something wrong. My intention was just to check the injured part of the body,” he added.

The boy had earlier testified behind closed doors that he burned his genitals in 2013. No further details were given in open court.

When Mr Kalaithasan questioned the man on why he did not clarify things with the boy over text messages, he replied that he intended to meet the boy and his mother face-to-face and share the messages with her.

The boy then sent another text message: “She may think the wrong way, I tried to explain to you.”

The man told the court: “The way he said it, it was as if I had molested him.”

“Did you molest him?” Mr Kalathaisan questioned. He replied no.

The man also said an incident had happened in March 2017 during a school camp, where the boy shared a shower cubicle with one or two friends and “played with each other” there.

The man added: “I told him he doesn’t need to shower with other people… I told him: ‘I don’t shower with people, right? I’m not gay.’ I told him you’re old enough, you can shower on your own.”

DENIED KISSING BOY AT MCDONALD’S

Mr Kalathaisan then quizzed him on an incident that took place on June 2, 2017. 

Another teacher had testified that she saw the man kissing the boy on his cheek, neck and near his ears at the McDonald’s outlet at the Woodlands Civic Centre that evening. She took a photograph of them holding hands and eventually submitted a formal report to the boy’s school.  

The man denied kissing the boy at those areas on any occasion, adding that he had only “buried my face on the top of his head” that day.

The prosecution then took its turn to cross-examine him.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lim Ying Min put to him that he had helped the family and told them about a dream he had in order to gain their trust and get “exclusive time” alone with the boy, even after he had graduated from primary school.

The man had dreamt that Jesus Christ came to him, telling him to “be with him, stay with him and help him”.

DPP Lim charged that he had capitalised on the family being Christian, even though he was not Christian himself at the time, and deceived them into believing Jesus told him to be the boy’s godfather.

“I put it to you that you came up with this reason to continue contacting him… because you had, by this time, developed feelings for (the boy). You knew that being like a father, as opposed to a teacher, would allow you exclusive time with (the boy) alone,” the prosecutor added.

The man disagreed.

The trial continues on Wednesday. 

If convicted of molesting a minor, the teacher could be jailed up to five years, fined, caned, or be penalised with all three.

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molest court crime

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