While on a public bus, 33-year-old Natarajan Prabu sat next to a young woman and used his thigh to rub against her bare leg.
Wanting to get to know her, he then followed her off the bus and into a lift where he rubbed her right arm several times.
Natarajan, who is an Indian national, pleaded guilty to two counts of outraging a woman’s modesty and was sentenced to three weeks’ jail in the State Courts on Thursday (14 December). The engineer was also fined $2,500 on a separate trespassing charge.
The court heart that on 21 November last year, Natarajan sat close to the woman while aboard the public bus and persisted in rubbing his thigh against hers even though she had squeezed herself close to the window to avoid contact with him. The victim cannot be named due to a gag order.
He committed the act three times and each rub was two to three seconds long.
The woman, a part-time tutor, was heading to a student’s house at Choa Chu Kang Ave 3. Natarajan followed her off the bus as he wanted to get to know her.
When the victim saw that he had followed her into the lift, she became scared. She was so terrified that she could not answer Natarajan when he asked her, “Why are you scared?”
Besides rubbing her arm while the lift was ascending, he asked if she liked it when he touched her thigh while they were on the bus.
The woman threatened to call the police if Natarajan followed her, and ran to her student’s unit to seek help. She lodged a police report on the same day.
Natarajan also pleaded guilty to two charges of house trespass. Court papers revealed that Natarajan had a habit of loitering around corridors of HDB blocks along Choa Chu Kang Street 51 and 52 to see if there were women asleep in their bedrooms.
This was something he enjoyed doing after going out drinking with friends and if he was not visiting prostitutes in Geylang.
On one such occasion on 4 July 2012, he slid open the window of unit’s bedroom and used his mobile phone’s torchlight to annoy the woman who was sleeping inside. He also tugged on a bolster that she had been hugging.
Natarajan’s lawyer, Jeremy Pereira of Withers KhattarWong, said his client was very sorry and has been undergoing treatment and counselling.
Pereira said that Natarajan committed the offences because thought the woman on the bus might be open to his advances, and he wanted to strike up and conversation and flirt with her. Pereira asked for a $2,000 fine on both charges for his client, who is married with a son.
“This entire episode is a wake-up call to him,” said Pereira.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Ee Ling sought a three-week jail term, saying that Natarajan knew his victim was scared yet persisted in rubbing her arm in the lift. The offences were serious and multiple, and it cannot be said that a jail term of three weeks is crushing, said Chee.
District Judge Jasvender Kaur agreed with the prosecution, saying that the outrage of modesty was prolonged.
For outrage of modesty, Natarajan could have been jailed up to two years, with fine, caning or a combination of such punishments. For house trespass, he could have been jailed up to a year, with a fine of up to $3,000 or both.
More Singapore stories: