Groomsman on trial for sexually assaulting bride on wedding night

Photo from Getty Images

SINGAPORE — A groomsman who allegedly sexually assaulted a bride in bed on her wedding night later apologised to the groom and hugged him, a court heard during his trial on Tuesday (24 March).

His actions during the incident in 2016 were revealed in the testimony by the groom in court. The groom, who was the ex-colleague of the accused, was lying in the next room when the sexual assault allegedly happened.

In his defence, the groomsman’s lawyer told the court that his client had apologised to the groom for touching the bride’s breast. The man claimed he thought he was sleeping at home beside his own wife.

The trial for the 40-year-old groomsman began on Monday but was heard in camera during the testimony from the 37-year-old victim. The man is accused of one count of molesting the bride in a hotel room by putting his hand underneath her nightgown and caressing her left breast at about 6am. He is also contesting one count of digitally penetrating the woman at about the same time.

None of the parties in this case can be named to protect the victim’s identity. Specific details, such as the name of hotel and the wedding date will also not be mentioned. While the couple is still together, they are currently undergoing divorce proceedings.

Testifying on Tuesday, the husband said that he was good friends with the man, whom he had known since 2008. The man was one of his 10 groomsmen for his wedding. 

The night after the wedding in 2016, the husband and at least three friends, including the man, had headed up to the hotel suite with the excess alcohol from the banquet. By then, the bride was already in the sleeping area, which was separated by a wooden partition from the living room of the suite. She was prepared to sleep and did not join in the drinking session, the husband told the court. 

The husband recalled that while he was in the room, the man gradually became drunk and fell asleep on the sofa. The other friends then left.

“I tried to wake him up but he did not respond to me so I continued letting him sleep, I was pretty drunk so I just slept on the two-seater sofa beside the one (the man) was sleeping on,” he said. 

Asked why he slept in the living room, the man said, “There was someone else in the room so I should just sleep in the living area just in case he wakes up then I can escort him out of the room.”

The husband said his wife later shook and woke him up. She told him that the man had entered the sleeping area and molested her by touching the upper and lower part of her body, he added. 

When the husband entered the bed area, he allegedly saw the man standing topless between the bed and the television. 

He confronted the man with his wife by his side, and the man claimed that he had only touched the upper part of the wife’s body. 

The husband said, “(The man) said he was sorry, he hugged me and I pushed him away…he took back his clothes, he took the shirt, he wore it back and he tried to smoke. He went to the living area and sat on the single-seater sofa and tried to smoke but (my wife) told him not to smoke.”

Asked by the defence lawyer, the husband added, “I recall some commotion, (my wife) was also right beside me, she was saying what (the man) did, (the man) was responding to what (my wife) has accused him of, and (the man) only admitted to doing half of it. I can’t recall exact words cause I was pretty agitated at that time.

“He told me he (was) sorry and that I’m like a brother to him and he was sorry but the exact wording I cannot remember.” 

Replying to a question from the prosecution about the man’s demeanour, the husband said he appeared flustered.

“He was not himself he was like - he looked scared, panicking I guess.” The man had not appeared intoxicated at this time and did not slur in his speech, according to the husband. 

A short confrontation ensued during which the husband kicked some cabinets in anger and chased the man out of the room. “I was angry and I didn’t want to see him there,” the husband said. 

The accused then discussed with his own wife on the next step they should take. The next day, the newly wed couple packed their things and headed to Police Cantonment Complex where they filed a police report. 

Man thought he was in bed with his wife: defence

According to the man’s lawyer, his client had only touched the breasts of the woman, believing that he was at home in bed with his wife. 

“I am instructed that you were awakened by (my client) when you were sleeping on the sofa, not by (your wife),” said the lawyer, to which the husband disagreed. 

“When he pulled you up and you got up at the same time, (your wife) came up through the bedroom through the sliding door and she asked (the man), ‘Bro what the f**k you doing in English?’” The husband disagreed, saying his wife had woken him up. 

“I’m also instructed that (my client) apologised to you for touching (your wife’s) breast and he told you he thought he was sleeping at home and thought it was his wife sleeping next to him,” said the lawyer. 

The husband replied that he could not recall him saying so. 

Asked by the defence if the couple had quarrelled, the husband said his wife blamed him for leaving the man in the room.

“It was brief thing as I explained that I can’t get him off the couch as he was heavy, we accepted that the thing happened,” said the man. 

Asked about his current relationship with the man, the husband said they were not on talking terms due to the court case.

“I remembered after the whole thing I saw him at the (coffeeshop) near the place I work, we sat down and had a chat for two minutes, I told him I’m not actually angry - what has happened had (already) happened. I told him the reason I never contacted him was instruction from the Investigating Officer, so he knows about this as well,” he said.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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