SINGAPORE — Attracted to a woman he saw on the street, the man followed her into a lift and blocked her from leaving.
Even after the pregnant victim told Kota Durga Prasad she was married, Kota persisted in his pursuit of her. He molested the woman, pressing his body to her and rubbing her belly several times after she told him she was pregnant.
The 26-year-old Indian national was jailed for nine months on Wednesday (20 January), after he pleaded guilty to one count of using criminal force on the victim while intending to molest her.
The victim, a 28-year-old Indian national, cannot be named to protect her identity. Then three months pregnant, the woman was visiting her husband, who works in Singapore, at the time of the incident.
Kota, who was a painter, was cycling towards an HDB block on 5 September last year when he noticed the woman in a night gown on the street. He felt she was pretty and began trailing her on his bicycle.
The woman entered the lift lobby with Kota following close behind. As the woman waited for the lift, Kota asked her for her phone number but she declined and said she had a husband.
“The accused claimed that he thought ‘it was okay to have friendship with her because nowadays maids from India even though they are married, they have boyfriend in Singapore’,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En told the court.
Kota had abandoned his bicycle outside the lift, according to CCTV footage played in court. The footage also shows Kota blocking the victim with his body and hands when she tried to escape until the doors closed.
In the lift, Kota hugged the woman and brought his face very close to hers. The woman struggled but Kota pressed his body against hers into the corner of the lift.
When the lift arrived at the 11th floor, the victim screamed for help but no one was around. Due to Kota restraining the victim with his arm, she could not flee the descending lift.
Out of fear, the victim agreed to give Kota her number. Kota took it down while still blocking her exit, and pressing the lift buttons to ensure its doors would remain closed.
When the door opened, the victim tried again unsuccessfully to escape as Kota held her back. After a short altercation, the victim told him that she was pregnant.
“The accused then reached out and rubbed her tummy several times,” said DPP Chong. After trying to touch her face, Kota stepped out of the lift, to the relief of the victim who slumped on the side of the lift.
Kota returned to the lift and made a last ditch attempt to hold its doors open by pressing the button. The lift began to ascend and Kota left on his bicycle.
Upon reaching home, Kota sent the woman five to six messages and called her several times until midnight, but the victim did not reply. She informed her husband, who rushed back home and called the police.
Kota was later arrested. While he initially denied the offences, he admitted to his actions later.
In submitting for a jail term of 10 months and caning, DPP Chong said, “Regardless whether they have husbands or are with child, women deserve to be safe and to feel safe. They should not have to fear assault just by going out by their everyday lives.
“Conversely, the accused is clearly a person who could not take no for an answer regardless of how many times the victim tried verbally or physically. We urge the honourable court to send a message that this sort of misogynistic behaviour will not be condoned,” he added.
For using criminal force on the woman to molest her, Kota could have been jailed up to two years, or with fine, or with caning, or any combination of the penalties.
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