SINGAPORE — A teacher accused of molesting his former male student testified that Jesus had come to him in a dream and told him to treat the alleged victim as a son.
The 35-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the then 12-year-old boy's identity, said that he had decided to take on the role of a father to the boy after the dream, even though he was not a Christian himself then.
During his trial on Tuesday (2 March), the teacher also claimed that he had touched the boy's penis only once over his shorts, in order to check on the boy's injured digit as a concerned father. The boy had given him permission to do so, said the man, while being examined on the stand by his lawyer, Kalaithasan Karuppaya.
The man is claiming trial to three charges of molest. These allegedly took place on 15 June 2017, when the man supposedly tapped the boy’s genitals over his shorts, and inserted his hand into the boy’s shorts and underwear to touch his penis. On the morning of 16 June 2017, the man allegedly attempted to touch the boy’s penis over his shorts.
The court heard that by end-2016, the boy – who was on a financial assistance scheme – had graduated from the school and was no longer the man's student. Around the same period, the man claimed Jesus had come to him in a dream and told him to guide, teach and show the boy "the way", and to treat him like a son.
The man identified the figure in his dream as Jesus due to the presence of a hole in his hand. He told the boy's mother – a Christian – about the dream and she agreed that it was Jesus.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lim Ying Min said that this was a ploy cooked up by the man to gain "exclusive time" to the boy in a way a teacher could not have.
She pointed out that even though the man was not a Christian, he had decided to "obey (Jesus') instructions to treat (the victim) like a son".
"I put to you that the Jesus dream was completely made up by you so as to mislead him and (his mother) into thinking that it was their God that wanted you to regard (the victim) as your godson," said DPP Lim.
The man disagreed with the statement.
The DPP then put to the teacher that he had capitalised on their religion to gain their trust and the man disagreed as well.
DPP Lim argued that since the boy had graduated, the teacher had used the dream as a reason to continue contacting the victim on a regular basis.
"I put to you the reason why you came up with the dream was because you had by this time developed some feelings for (the victim)... you wanted exclusive time with him alone... You knew that being like a father, as opposed to a teacher, will allow you just that - exclusive time with him alone." The man disagreed with all the statements.
Accused explains text messages
Lawyer Kalaithasan took the man through a series of text messages exchanged between him and the boy over the course of the incident period, before he was arrested in June 2017. Some messages, read out in court, revealed that the man and alleged victim had told each other "I love you", with the man seemingly asking to lie on the boy's lap and shower with him.
Asked about a message where the man asked the boy if he was thinking of him, the man said he was "just joking around". "It was just pure question, no intention to it. Because he said he was lying on his bed, so I just asked him are you thinking of me, that's all," he said.
Kalaithasan replied "You wanted him to think of you", and the man said, "No, it's meant to be a joke, it doesn’t matter whether he was thinking of me or not."
Asked about another message where the man appeared to have asked the boy for permission to sleep on his lap, the man said he had just wanted a moment of comfort, as he was sick with a sore throat and fever then.
The lawyer then moved on to a text by the boy, who told the teacher to "stop touching my (penis)", and asked the man what he understood by this. The man said the boy was referring to an incident on 15 June 2017 when he touched the top of the "bulge" on the victim's shorts.
"For me, it was very clear in my mind that was the only thing that happened, the touching of the top of the bulge of his shorts," said the teacher. He added that he apologised for the incident but was puzzled as he had asked for permission to touch the boy.
"My intention was just to check the injured part of the body," said the man. The man said he apologised as he did not want to argue anymore and was "tired" of the constant arguments. He said he had intended to meet up with mother and son in person to clarify the incident, however he was arrested before he could do so.
On another message, where he ostensibly asked to shower with the boy thrice, the man said it was "misunderstood".
"When I first heard that he used to shower with his mother and brothers, I was a little bit taken aback so I spoke to him and told him that he was old enough to shower on his own. I asked him... 'you can’t be showering with me right, you can’t right', I asked him a few times, 'can you shower with me, no right, it doesn't make sense', I asked him rapidly like this."
The trial continues on Tuesday afternoon.
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