SINGAPORE — A 29-year-old female teacher at a secondary school in north-western Singapore engaged in sexual acts with an underaged male student in 2016, a court heard.
At the State Courts on Monday (10 June), the woman, who cannot be named to protect the victim’s identity, was sentenced to two years and nine months’ jail.
She pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual penetration under the Penal Code and two counts of sexual exploitation of a person younger than 16 under the Children and Young Persons Act. The acts stopped short of sexual intercourse.
At the time of the offences, the student was aged 15.
Another five charges of sexual exploitation of a young person were considered in sentencing.
The teacher, who has been suspended by the education ministry, is out on bail of $15,000 and will serve her sentence in two weeks’ time.
Grew closer after school camp
The teacher first taught the victim mathematics when he was in Secondary 1 and 2 in 2014 and 2015. However, he did not like the subject and they did not interact much.
In March 2016, as part of a school camp, the victim and teacher hiked up a mountain. She had some difficulties and he helped her out a few times.
After the camp, they grew closer and began texting and speaking more. Eventually, she told him that she had feelings for him. He also told her that he “liked her”, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Yvonne Poon.
Around September 2016, they entered into a romantic relationship. They would go for jogs together at night near their homes or meet to watch movies.
The teacher would also drive the victim to various parks and reservoirs to sit, chat and engage in physical intimacy. They also exchanged sexually explicit text messages.
Told victim to kiss her from neck down
In late 2016, the teacher wanted to make up for being away from the victim as she was going overseas with her friends for an extended period, the court heard.
They decided to have a staycation or “honeymoon” and checked into a hotel in Geylang over five days from 28 November 2016 to 2 December 2016.
The victim told his mother that he was going for a school camp.
During their stay at the hotel, the teacher and student engaged in physical intimacy.
On one occasion, they watched a movie on her laptop in bed before she told him that she “wanted to try something new” and re-enact a scene from the movie. She told him to kiss her from the neck down to her private parts.
Victim’s mother found love notes
Around December 2016 to early 2017, the victim’s mother stumbled upon a series of letters folded into heart shapes while she was cleaning the house.
“Unknown to her at that time, these were letters that the accused had written to the victim - one for each day that she would be away on holiday,” said DPP Poon.
The mother also found a condominium access card, a car key and vehicle registration papers in the victim’s bag. The papers were in the teacher’s name. The mother grew suspicious as the teacher was about 11 years older than her son.
“Also unknown to the (mother) at the time, the accused had asked the victim to go over to her condominium to help her start her car whilst the accused was away on holiday,” said DPP Poon.
Sometime later, the victim asked his mother if she would consider marrying someone 11 years older than her. She felt that something was wrong and brought the matter to the attention of the school management.
The school began investigations and uncovered the relationship between the teacher and the victim, before reporting the matter to the police.
The teacher was arrested on 16 February 2017. Sexually explicit text messages and photos of the teacher and student kissing were found on their phones. There was also a two-minute video of the duo French-kissing on a bed in the hotel room.
Blatant abuse of trust
DPP Poon urged District Judge Christopher Tan to impose a jail term of between two years and 10 months, and three years.
“In the present case, there was a blatant abuse of trust by virtue of the exploited teacher-student relationship,” she said.
“As the victim’s teacher, the accused was further supposed to play the role of nurturer and educator, and to watch out for the victim’s welfare. Instead, she exerted a morally corrupting influence on the victim,” added DPP Poon.
Meanwhile, defence lawyer T. M. Sinnadurai pleaded for leniency for the teacher, saying “her ultimate punishment is that she will never be able to work in the education industry anymore”.
The lawyer said the offences did not involve any intimidation, blackmail, or pressure and the relationship was mutual.
Referring to a medical report, Sinnadurai said the teacher “knew the wrongfulness of the relationship (with the victim), but was not able to shake it off due to her weakness in being decisive and assertive”. “She has a weak nature,” he added.
In passing sentence, District Judge Christopher Tan agreed with the prosecution that the abuse of trust involved in the case was “significant”.
“Trust had been reposed in the accused not just by the students, but by the parents and the educational system,” he said.
For each of the teacher’s crimes of sexual penetration under the Penal Code, she could have been jailed for up to 10 years along with a fine. For each of her crimes of sexual exploitation under the Children and Young Persons Act, she could have been jailed for up to five years and fined up to $10,000.
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