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The Straits Times
Aug 25, 2023
A male teacher targeted an 11-year-old boy who had confided in him about family problems, and molested the child on five occasions in their primary school between 2017 and 2018.
Deputy public prosecutors Lim Ying Min and Angela Ang said in their submissions that the man is a prime example of how a teacher’s position of trust and authority can be so perversely abused.
They told the court: “Having gained both the victim and his mother’s trust as a teacher-mentor in the victim’s life, the accused had every opportunity to commit the... five offences on the unsuspecting boy under his charge.”
Senior District Judge Bala Reddy convicted the 44-year-old man of five molestation charges on Friday. He cannot be named owing to a gag order to protect the victim’s identity.
In a statement in July 2021, the Ministry of Education told The Straits Times that the offender had been suspended from duty since November 2018.
The DPPs said in their submissions that the victim’s parents separated when the boy was less than a year old. He then lived with his father. It was the boy’s grandfather who largely cared for him.
The boy was around seven years old when he went to live with his mother, as his father was jailed for reasons not disclosed in court documents.
She later remarried and during the trial, the victim testified that his relationship with his stepfather was “not good”.
The prosecutors said: “The (stepfather) would beat and scold him... and would do so with his hand or his belt. The victim would end up with bruises on his face or belt marks on his arms as a result.”
They added that the victim was also not close to his mother, as she was focused on her newborn daughter.
In 2016, the boy joined a school uniformed group that the offender was in charge of. The victim started confiding in the teacher about his family problems the following year.
The man then asked the boy if he wanted to be his godson and the child agreed.
The DPPs said: “So close was their relationship that even the victim’s mother came to rely heavily on the accused in her efforts to manage the victim.”
However, she was unaware at the time about the godfather-godson relationship.
During the trial, the victim testified that the teacher molested him for the first time in November 2017.
The prosecutors said that the victim felt embarrassed about what had occurred and did not know what to do about it. The teacher targeted the boy four more times in 2018.
The offences came to light “by sheer chance” after the victim showed his brother a picture of the teacher, the court heard.
The brother jokingly remarked that the teacher looked “gay” and asked if the man had touched the victim. The victim turned silent before admitting that the teacher had molested him.
The brother told their uncle about the conversation, and the man alerted the victim’s mother.
She later contacted the victim’s form teacher and a police report was lodged soon after.
In their submissions, the DPPs said the teacher was a deceitful witness who was unworthy of credit, adding: “Perhaps the most telling sign of the accused’s guilt is his persistent efforts to obstruct the court of justice in the course of trial, despite numerous warnings by (the court).”
Among other things, he had directly contacted a prosecution witness via e-mail on June 15, 2022, even though he was not supposed to do so. He contacted another prosecution witness in January 2023.
The teacher, who is represented by lawyer Gino Hardial Singh, had claimed that the victim had fabricated the molestations because he did not buy the boy a bicycle.
The teacher’s mitigation and sentencing are expected next Thursday.