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Teacher gets 2.5 years’ jail, caning for molesting boy who treated him like a father

SINGAPORE — A 36-year-old primary school teacher was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ jail and three strokes of the cane on Thursday (Sept 9) for molesting a former student, then aged 12, with whom he had shared a father-son relationship.

A primary school teacher was found guilty of three offences of outrage of modesty and attempted outrage of modesty, committed on June 15 and 16 in 2017 during a sleepover with a student at home.

A primary school teacher was found guilty of three offences of outrage of modesty and attempted outrage of modesty, committed on June 15 and 16 in 2017 during a sleepover with a student at home.

SINGAPORE — A 36-year-old primary school teacher was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ jail and three strokes of the cane on Thursday (Sept 9) for molesting a former student, then aged 12, with whom he had shared a father-son relationship.

The Singaporean teacher, who has been suspended from service since July 2017 and no longer teaches in a school, cannot be named due to a court order to protect the boy’s identity.

District Judge John Ng found him guilty of three offences of outrage of modesty and attempted outrage of modesty, committed on June 15 and 16 in 2017 during a sleepover at his home. 

He had first touched the boy’s genitals over his shorts, then later on the same day, he put his hand into the boy’s underwear to touch his genitals. The next morning, he tried to touch the boy’s crotch again.

The man's defence counsel, Mr Kalaithasan Karuppaya, told the court that he will be appealing against the conviction and sentence.

Mr Karuppaya said that he would file the appeal on Thursday, after which the prosecution sought an increase in the bail amount from S$15,000 to S$25,000.

The lawyer previously told the court that the teacher intends to claim trial to two remaining charges. 

These are for voluntarily causing hurt by grabbing the boy’s wrists and slapping his cheek, and another of exhibiting an obscene object by showing him a pornographic video on his laptop during the sleepover.

In response to TODAY’s queries, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said that it will be following up with disciplinary proceedings after the court case.

“MOE takes a serious view of staff misconduct and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against those who fail to adhere to our standards of conduct and discipline, including dismissal from service.” 

‘TRUST NO ONE’

In sentencing the teacher, District Judge Ng referred to several aggravating factors such as the abuse of position of trust.

The man had been the boy’s Primary 6 form teacher in 2016 and had developed a close relationship with him.

The victim, now 16, was raised by a single mother who told the court that the teacher had been like family to them, even lending her money several times and acting as the boy’s guardian. 

District Judge Ng noted: “It was not in dispute that the accused shared a father-son relationship with the boy. Instead of protecting the boy, he betrayed his trust and gave sway to his sexual desires.”

The teacher also created an opportunity to be with the victim by suggesting the sleepover, and broached the subject of pornography while alone with the victim under the pretext of sex education. 

“His actions were deliberate and not opportunistic. This reflected a higher culpability,” District Judge Ng added.

The judge noted that the boy had become “insecure and easily angered” after the molestations, even getting a tattoo on his arm that said “trust no one”.

The judge said that there were no mitigating factors in this case, and the fact that the teacher was a first-time offender “carried little weight in the circumstances of this case”.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lim Ying Min had sought 31 to 34 months’ jail with five strokes of the cane.

She had pointed out in court how vulnerable the victim had been, coming from a poor family and not closely monitored by his mother, who had to work and take care of his other siblings. His biological father was not in his life.

The teacher had sexually groomed the boy, then “went on to control and isolate” him after gaining his trust, DPP Lim argued. 

He had also influenced the boy’s mother to minimise her reporting of his actions, she said. 

Most significantly, he transferred money to her three times, DPP Lim added. A few days before the sleepover, on the day of the sleepover and on the day the victim confronted him about the assault.

"He transferred S$1,150 in that month alone  — well above the $100 to $200 monthly transfer.” 

For molesting a minor, the teacher could have been jailed up to five years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of the three punishments. Attempted molestation carries up to half of the punishment.

Clarification: In an earlier version of this report, it was written that the man has left the teaching service. His lawyer had told the court that he was a former teacher and is now unemployed. The Ministry of Education clarified that he remains under suspension.

Related topics

court crime molest student teacher family single parent

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