Jailed: Maid who recorded elderly man in shower, uploaded video to TikTok

·4-min read
Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A maid who filmed an elderly man she was showering and uploaded the video onto a social media platform was jailed for one year and five months on Thursday (27 January).

Nurhalisah, 33, captured the 74-year-old victim’s genitals and face in multiple recordings.

She pleaded guilty to two counts of recording the victim in a private act, and two counts of distributing an intimate video of him to a person and to online platform TikTok. Another nine charges of a similar nature, for taking other videos of the victim in a private act and for distributing the video, were considered for her sentencing.

As the victim was considered vulnerable, the maid faces maximum penalties which are twice the amounts provided for her charges.

The court has imposed a gag order on the identity of the victim and his residential address

Victim depended on maid for daily activities

The victim was diagnosed with brain conditions in December 2019, and was referred to the Singapore National Eye Centre after he was discharged from Tan Tock Seng Hospital in January 2020.

Clinical examination revealed very poor vision in both eyes, with no improvement with pin-holing or glasses. The prosecution told the court that the prognosis was deemed to be poor with very little hope of recovery, and the victim needed indefinite long-term follow-up for glaucoma control to preserve hand movement vision as well as light perception.

The victim was unable to protect himself from abuse and depended on the maid for his daily activities, including helping to brush his teeth.

Nurhalisah was hired by the victim’s son to care for him from 1 February 2020. From then until 14 February 2020, the maid assisted the victim to shower in the bathroom as he was unable to shower himself. He sat on the toilet bowl fully naked.

On one of the showering sessions, the maid activated the video recording function on her mobile phone and placed it such that her camera captured the victim before she started to help him shower and brush his teeth. After the shower, she helped him to stand up, exposing his genitals to the camera, before wrapping a bath towel around him.

The video, which lasted nine minutes and five seconds, also captured the maid staring and smiling into the camera. She sent this footage to an unknown person through WhatsApp.

Took video with intention of posting on TikTok

On 1 January last year, while again helping the victim to shower, Nurhalisah activated the video recording function on the TikTok on her mobile phone, intending to post the video on her TikTok account.

She placed her phone in the bathroom with the camera angled at the victim, before helping the victim to shower and shave his face. His genitals were not visible in the recording.

She also smiled at the camera in this 58-second long video. The helper uploaded the video onto TikTok, and it was accessible to anyone who had a link to it.

Within an hour, however, the maid took down the video as she received negative comments criticising her behaviour, according to her. However she kept the video on her phone.

Even though she had taken down the video, it was uploaded onto Facebook by an unknown person. The victim’s face was blurred out.

The victim’s son came across the post on Facebook on 3 January last year, and recognised both the maid and his father. He lodged a police report.

As of 15 June last year, the video, which was still available on Facebook, gained more than 14,000 views, 90 comments and 157 reactions.

Punishment was double the usual penalty, as victim was vulnerable

In total, Nurhalisah recorded seven videos of the victim showering. Four of these captured his genitals. She sent five of the videos to unknown persons.

The prosecution highlighted that the victim had poor vision and likely did not even know the maid was recording him illicitly. Deputy Public Prosecutor Foong Ke Hui added that the victim experienced a high degree of humiliation as he was fully naked.

Nurhalisah pleaded for leniency through an interpreter, saying she was the sole breadwinner of the family. She said that she had been staying in Singapore and wanted to go home.

District Judge Ng Peng Hong noted that since the victim was vulnerable, the punishment prescribed under the law was double the usual penalty.

“So it’s indicated clearly that the offences committed by you are very serious in nature…I agree with the prosecution that a deterrent sentence must be meted out,” he added.

Recording a person in a private act carries up to two years’ jail, caning, and/or a fine. The maid faced up to four years’ jail and/or a fine for this charge.

Distributing intimate recordings carries a jail term of up to five years and/or caning, and/or a fine. The maid faced up to 10 years’ jail and/or a fine for this charge. As she is a woman, she cannot be caned.

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