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The Straits Times
Aug 28, 2019
A primary school vice-principal started performing sexual acts on a male pupil when he was just 14 years old and preyed on him for three years even after becoming the boy's guardian in Singapore.
The boy and his mother had arrived here from China in 1999 when he was about nine years old. His mother was later repatriated for working illegally in Singapore and the boy eventually moved in with the man.
The sexual offences, which first occurred in school in 2003, continued in the man’s Woodlands flat until 2006.
The Singaporean victim, who is now 30 years old, finally moved out in 2013 and lodged a police report two years later.
On Tuesday (Aug 27), District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt found the vice-principal, now 57 years old, guilty of three counts of sexually exploiting a minor. The judge also convicted him of five counts of carnal intercourse.
The man, who was suspended from duty, cannot be named owing to a gag order to protect the victim's identity.
In his submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor James Chew said that the victim was a Primary 5 pupil in 2003 and he reported to the man every morning as he was the school's vice-head prefect.
They were in their school gym some time that year when the man sexually stimulated the boy.
DPP Chew told the district judge: "(The boy) did not know how to react, and had doubts about the nature of what the accused did, as the accused was a very respected figure."
He added that the boy did not tell anyone what happened as he was afraid no one would believe him.
The boy became the head prefect in 2004 and accepted the man's offer for one-to-one English tuition at the Woodlands flat. The man would then sexually stimulate the teenager after lessons.
During the trial in March last year, the victim testified that his mother was repatriated around 2002 for working illegally in Singapore and he had to live with a relative here. When the relative could no longer be his guardian after the Primary School Leaving Examination in 2004, he moved in with the vice-principal, who became his guardian, as well as the man’s parents and their maid.
The court heard that the teenager felt "honoured and privileged" to move in with them.
The DPP said that although the boy's belongings were put in a room opposite the maid's, the accused told the victim to sleep in his bedroom at night.
"The victim shared a very good relationship with the accused's father and mother... He regarded them as grandparents. He also began to regard the accused not just as a mentor, but also as a fatherly figure to him, and he was very appreciative of the accused."
However, the man continued to commit sexual acts on the teenager until 2006 and the activities progressed to involve oral sex.
DPP Chew said that the victim started becoming more resistant to the man's advances in 2007. However, he would still give in due to pressure from the man.
In 2013, they went on a trip to Scandinavia and the victim met a woman whom he later married. He moved into her home in Singapore later that year, added DPP Chew.
While he was in a local hospital in 2015, the victim bumped into the vice-principal's niece and told her about his ordeal. She encouraged him to lodge a police report.
He then decided to contact the older man for an "out of court settlement", asking for $200,000 in compensation.
They agreed to meet on Nov 24, 2015, but the victim was instead served with a "legal letter" that day. During the trial in March last year, the court heard that it was a cease-and-desist order from a lawyer, accusing the victim of extortion.
The victim finally lodged a police report the next day.
In his defence, the vice-principal, who is represented by lawyer T.M. Sinnadurai, denied engaging in any sexual acts with the victim.
The man's bail was set at $15,000 and he is expected to be sentenced on Sept 24.
For each carnal intercourse charge, he can either be jailed for life or jailed for up to 10 years and fined.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said the man has been suspended from duty since Dec 2015 and is not deployed at any school.
"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. All educators are expected to conduct themselves in a manner which upholds the integrity of the profession and the trust placed in them."