SINGAPORE — A male secondary school teacher admitted on Thursday (5 December) to molesting seven 14-year-old boys who were in the co-curricular activity (CCA) group he led.
The 37-year-old man, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to three out of nine charges of molest. At the time of the offences, the man was teaching two subjects at the school and was also in charge of the uniform group CCA his victims were in.
The offences took place between 2015 and 2017. None of the parties can be named to protect the identities of the victims.
Offered first victim a ride home
The court heard that in 2015, the teacher offered to send a student home. During the ride, the man asked the student, who was in the front passenger seat, if he watched pornography.
Before the teenager could answer, the teacher clenched his fist and made an obscene gesture. When the teenager said that he did not watch pornography, the teacher remained silent.
After the two arrived at the student’s residence, the teacher slid his hand into the victim’s shorts and touched his genitals over his underwear.
The teacher then said, “Play play only, don’t tell any teacher.” The teenager did not know how to react to the comment and felt scared during the teacher’s three-second act, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Joshua Lim.
‘What happens here, stays in here’
In 2016, the teacher hugged another male student who was kneeling on the floor of the school’s gym. The teenager had been cleaning the gym as a form of punishment for missing a CCA session the day before.
The teenager felt uncomfortable about the hug and tried to wriggle out of it. The teacher then pulled forward the teenager’s pants and underwear and touched the victim’s bare genitals. The act, which lasted a few seconds, left the victim shocked and not knowing what to do.
His teacher had earlier told the CCA group’s members that “what happens here, stays in here.” The teenager quit the CCA group after the incident.
The following year, during a CCA session in the school gym, the teacher preyed on a student while the latter was using the gym equipment.
While the victim was using an exercise roller, the teacher asked the student if he could go lower and added that he would support him as he did so. The teacher then placed his hand under the teenager’s body.
As the student exercised, the teacher clutched the victim’s genitals over his PE shorts and held on for two seconds. The shocked then fell forward in shock, prompting the teacher to laugh.
According the teacher’s charge sheets, he molested four other boys on separate occasions at the school’s gym, in his car and in a room at the school. He hugged one of the victim’s naked torso while he was changing and pinched his left cheek. He also hugged another shirtless boy and pinched his nipple, later molesting him over his pants.
On another occasion, the teacher slapped a teenager’s buttocks three times while he was resting on a sofa inside one of the school’s rooms. He also squeezed another victim’s genitals while the latter was carrying weights at the gym.
Calling for a jail term of at least two years, two months and three strokes of the cane, DPP Lim described the teacher’s offences as having been “persistent, wide-ranging, and targetted”.
“Parents and students, and society in general, do not expect those who are called to be teachers to be predators masquerading as protectors. Accordingly, when one is uncovered, the courts have not been hesitant to impose a sentence that involves considerations of both general and specific deterrence,” he said.
While the teacher did not target students outside of the CCA, this was not a coincidence, said the prosecutor.
“He knew he had tremendous influence over (the victims) by virtue of him being the teacher in charge of a uniformed group CCA,” he added.
Citing the teacher’s coercion of his students, DPP Lim said that the victims had also not wanted to seem like they were overly sensitive by lodging complaints about actions that the teacher had labelled as “fun” or “play”.
For each count of molest, the teacher faces up to two years’ jail, along with a possible fine or caning. He is expected to be sentenced on 17 December.
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