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Witness says teacher accused of molesting male student was kissing him on ‘intimate areas’ in public

SINGAPORE — While queuing up to buy dinner for her sister, a secondary school teacher thought something was amiss when she saw a man behaving intimately with a 12-year-old boy.

A teacher took photos of the accused and the student, found out the name of the boy's school and then told a teacher friend from that school about the incident.

A teacher took photos of the accused and the student, found out the name of the boy's school and then told a teacher friend from that school about the incident.

  • A witness said that she saw a man at a fast-food outlet kissing a boy on the cheek, neck and near the ears
  • The man was also alleged to have caressed the boy’s buttocks and placed his palm near the boy’s crotch
  • The witness took photos of them and found out the name of the school where the boy was studying
  • She then told a teacher friend from that school about the incident

 

SINGAPORE — While queuing up to buy dinner for her sister, a secondary school teacher thought something was amiss when she saw a man behaving intimately with a 12-year-old boy.

Feeling uncomfortable with what she saw, Ms Renuga Konasegaran took photographs of the pair to “identify the boy in case he needed help”. 

The 35-year-old Singaporean woman, who works as an English teacher at a school located in the northern part of Singapore, was testifying on Thursday (Aug 27) during the fourth day of a trial hearing for a primary school teacher who is accused of molesting a male student.

He allegedly molested the boy three times within a span of two days. The accused and the school cannot be named due to a court order to protect the identity of the boy, who is now 16 years old.

The Singaporean man, who used to be the boy’s form teacher, allegedly committed the offences on June 15 and 16 in 2017.

He had been suspended from service since July 2017 and no longer teaches in any school, a Ministry of Education spokesperson told TODAY.

He is contesting three charges of molesting or attempting to molest a minor under 14.

Two other charges have been stood down for the time being: One of voluntarily causing hurt by grabbing the boy’s wrists and slapping his cheek, and another of exhibiting an obscene object by showing the boy a pornographic video on a laptop.

Ms Renuga is the second person to testify during the trial after the teenager himself.

‘HIGHLY UNCOMFORTABLE’

On the witness stand, Ms Renuga told Deputy Public Prosecutor Lim Ying Min that on the evening of June 2, 2017, she was at a McDonald’s outlet at the Woodlands Civic Centre.

While waiting for her order, she noticed a man and a boy standing in front of her, holding hands and “deep in conversation”.

Initially, she said that nothing struck her as “abnormal” until she saw the man lean in to kiss the boy on his cheek, neck and near his ears.

Ms Renuga, who described these facial and bodily areas as “intimate”, said: “I was highly uncomfortable with this gesture as I thought it was inappropriate for an older man to be kissing a younger boy this way.”

She added that the boy “seemed okay with what was happening”. 

She also noticed that both the man and the boy were of different races, which made her question the relationship between the two.

Furthermore, she said that she saw the man holding the boy by the hips before he started caressing the boy’s buttocks. 

At some point, the man placed his palm near the boy’s crotch and the boy responded by holding the man’s hand, Ms Renuga said.

While she could not recall when exactly she took the photos of them, Ms Renuga said that she did so in the event that the boy ever needed help. 

She also found an opportunity to approach the boy to find out where he was studying. She did so by remarking to the boy that he reminded her of a neighbour’s son, and asked if he was studying in a specific school. 

When he said no, she then asked him directly and found that he was a Secondary 1 student studying at another school.

At this juncture, the man intervened and they “walked very quickly” out of the fast-food joint. Ms Renuga said that she tried to follow, but lost sight of them.

However, she told the court that she knew a friend who was teaching in the boy’s school and decided to approach her with the information she had.

Ms Renuga’s friend did not recognise the boy, but agreed to share the photograph with her colleagues.

Four days later, Ms Renuga was asked by her friend to submit a formal report to the school so that it could take up the matter.  

Some time that year, she received a call from the police requiring her to give a statement about what she saw.

‘NOT LIKE A FATHER KISSING A SON’

During a cross-examination by Mr Kalaithasan Karuppaya of Regent Law LLC, who is the lawyer for the accused, Ms Renuga was asked if she had never seen a grown man holding a boy’s hand in public.

She replied that she had, but her intuition told her to take a photograph because it did not look like they were related.

Mr Kalaithasan suggested to her that the boy could have been of mixed parentage, but Ms Renuga disagreed, saying it was clear that it was not the case. She added that the boy did not look related to the man either. 

The defence lawyer further suggested that a man could adopt a boy of a different race and hold his hands as well.

Ms Renuga said that this was possible, but added later that the man was not behaving in a fatherly manner.

“The kisses were done repeatedly. On the cheek and near the neck, which were pretty intimate areas. This is why I did not feel like it was a father kissing his son,” she said.

The court hearing will resume after a pre-trial conference on Sept 11.

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