NUS voyeur can be rehabilitated, prosecution would ruin his future: police

NUS campus at Kent Ridge Crescent (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — The police said that it handed out a conditional warning to the student involved in the sexual misconduct case at the National University of Singapore (NUS) as he was assessed to have a high likelihood of rehabilitation and was remorseful.

“A prosecution, with a possible jail sentence, will likely ruin his entire future with a permanent criminal record,” the police said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (23 April).

The statement by the police – which was later shared by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam – was in response to recent “public discussions” regarding the 12-month conditional warning that was given to the student, 23-year-old Nicholas Lim.

The police added that there were additional relevant factors relating to his conduct, such as the absence of other obscene materials in his possession.

Criminal trespass and outrage of modesty

Lim had committed criminal trespass and insulted the modesty of 23-year-old undergraduate Monica Baey, after he was caught filming her showering in a hostel toilet.

The NUS Board of Discipline ordered the offender to be suspended for one semester. He was also banned from entering housing premises on campus; ordered to undergo counselling; and made to write a letter of apology to Baey, among other punishments.

The first-time offender was also given a 12-month conditional warning by the police.

Over several Instagram posts, Baey later expressed her anger over what she perceived as being light penalties impost on Lim. Baey’s posts subsequently went viral online.

Two issues at heart of recent public discussions

With many NUS students criticising the punishments meted out to Lim, the police said there are two issues at the heart of the recent public discussions.

The first relates to rules to ensure that premises like NUS provide a safe environment. The university is now reviewing its rules on how such conduct is to be treated, after Education Minister Ong Ye Kung expressed his concerns to the university over the “manifestly inadequate” penalties imposed.

The second issue is the public concern on ensuring that Singapore’s laws and enforcement provide sufficient protection for potential victims, as well as sufficient deterrence against would-be offenders.

“In deciding whether to recommend prosecution for a criminal offence, a number of factors are considered in each case, including the age of the accused, the likelihood of reoffending/rehabilitation, the extent of remorse shown, whether there are aggravating factors (for example, like circulation of the offending images),” said the police.

“Taking into account these factors, (the accused) was given a conditional warning, which means that if he commits any other criminal offence within 12 months, he will be liable to be prosecuted for both this current offence and the subsequent other offence. He will then likely face a jail sentence.”

Allegations of influential parents untrue, said police

In addition, the police refuted allegations that Lim was not prosecuted because he has influential parents are untrue. It said that factors such as family background are irrelevant in police investigations.

“Allegations that the man was not prosecuted because he has influential parents are untrue – the Police and AGC did not consider his parents’ background,” the police said in the statement. “Such factors are irrelevant considerations. It is unfortunate that such untruths have been put out.

“The man’s parents have agreed for it to be disclosed that his father is a driver in the public transport sector and his mother is a housewife.”

Concerns on university campuses

The incident has sparked many debates and widespread concerns over sexual harassment in university campuses in Singapore.

On Monday, NUS said it would hold a town hall meeting this week to address concerns over the controversy, after almost 500 NUS students – with support from 194 students from other local universities and educational institutions – sent a letter on Sunday to the top management of NUS, urging them to take immediate steps to tackle sexual harassment on campus.

At the same time, Great Eastern Life Assurance said that Lim had resigned from the company after it has suspended him for misconduct.

Related stories: 

Ong Ye Kung concerned over ‘manifestly inadequate’ penalties in NUS sexual misconduct case

NUS student leaves Great Eastern after being suspended for ‘inappropriate misconduct’

NUS to hold town hall this week to address concerns of sexual misconduct on campus

Almost 500 NUS students issue statement of concern on sexual harassment at NUS