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The Straits Times
September 5, 2023
After suffering five months of sexual abuse at the hands of her employer, a 45-year-old domestic worker packed her things and insisted on leaving the flat.
The man’s brother called the police in an attempt to stop her. When the officers arrived, the Indonesian woman told them that her employer had sexually assaulted her.
Her employer was arrested on the same day.
On Tuesday, Tan Jeck Tuang, 69, was sentenced to 15 years’ jail after he pleaded guilty in the High Court to one charge each of rape and outrage of modesty.
Six other charges, for outrage of modesty and sexual assault by penetration, were taken into consideration during sentencing. The offences were committed between November 2020 and March 2021.
In sentencing, Justice Aedit Abdullah said Tan had treated the woman as a sexual plaything. The victim was vulnerable because of the difference in power between her and the man, the judge added.
Justice Abdullah also ruled that no gag order was necessary on Tan’s name, saying it was doubtful that identifying the man would lead to the identification of the victim.
Tan’s lawyer had asked the court in mitigation to consider the man’s advanced age and to not impose what would amount to a life sentence.
But Justice Abdullah said he did not see merit in the proposition that Tan’s age warranted a sentencing discount.
“Those who do not wish to die in prison are advised not to commit offences that would leave them to die in prison,” said the judge.
The victim started working at Tan’s flat, which he shared with his sister, in August 2020. The maid’s main responsibility was to care for him, following his diagnosis of vascular dementia in June 2020.
Vascular dementia is a type of dementia that leads to progressive memory loss, decline in intellectual ability and personality changes. It is caused by reduced supply of blood to the brain due to damaged blood vessels.
On Nov 7, 2020, Tan asked the victim to prepare food for him while he was in his room. After he had his meal, he called the victim back into his room to collect the plate.
When the victim entered his room, Tan pulled her hand and said “sleep”. The victim immediately felt weak, helpless and as if she was about to faint, prosecutors told the court.
Tan then kissed her, lifted her shirt and committed various sexual acts on her.
After the victim opened her eyes, she confronted the man. He said “sorry”, and said that he enjoyed her body.
“The victim felt shameful and disgusted following the incident,” said prosecutors.
The woman decided to keep her stained shirt as evidence, and subsequent DNA analysis found Tan’s semen on the shirt.
Some time between February 2021 and March 2021, Tan told the maid to check the fridge to see what meat was available.
The man then approached the victim from behind and said “sleep”. Again, the victim immediately felt weak, helpless and as if she was about to faint.
Tan then dragged her to a chair and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
On April 11, 2021, the maid tried to leave the flat, saying that she did not wish to work for Tan any more. Due to her insistence on leaving the unit, Tan’s brother lodged a police report seeking police assistance.
After Tan’s arrest, she was assessed at the Institute of Mental Health and diagnosed to be suffering from major depression following the sexual assaults.
Deputy public prosecutors Theong Li Han and Quek Lu Yi sought at least 15 years’ jail, noting that the victim had suffered significant mental trauma as a direct consequence of Tan’s actions.
Defence counsel Teo Choo Kee asked for about 10 years’ jail. “What my client did was deplorable but certainly not the worst of its kind,” he said, adding that Tan had been a law-abiding citizen.