SINGAPORE — A police officer who sexually harassed his female teammate was fined $9,000 on Wednesday (8 April).
The 29-year-old staff sergeant has been suspended from service since 26 December 2018. He is married with two children aged 5 and 2.
The Singaporean pleaded guilty to three counts of molest, involving pushing his co-worker’s buttocks, touching her hand and placing his hand on her thigh while in a patrol car. The two were never in a romantic relationship.
Both the accused and the 27-year-old victim, who is a Ground Response Force Officer holding the rank of Sergeant 2, cannot be named due to a gag order.
The harassment began in 2016 while the two were performing their duties together. Both were deployed to patrol a housing estate and the man was the assigned driver of the police patrol car.
While chatting in the car, the man placed his hand on the right thigh of the woman, who was dressed in long pants. In response, the woman shifted her leg away from the man and he removed his hand. The woman then placed a clipboard on her right thigh to cover it. She did not confront the man even though she felt she had been molested.
On another occasion within the same year, the two were on duty at the counter of a neighbourhood police centre when the woman handed over an item to the man. The man placed his hand over her hand lightly before sliding it down to take the item.
“There was more than sufficient space for the accused to take the item without touching her hand,” the prosecution noted.
The man had also molested the woman with two other co-workers present. On 1 May 2017, the victim was deployed to perform anti-crime rounds around a housing estate with the accused and two other police officers.
At about 10pm, the woman and the man were on plainclothes foot patrol, slightly behind their two colleagues. As the woman walked pass the man, she felt pressure on her left buttock. The man then shoved her forward on her left buttock.
Shocked, the woman did not know how to react. She caught up with her two other colleagues but did not confront the man. Her co-workers did not observe the incident as they were in front.
On 17 April 2018, the woman confided in an officer whose lecture she attended with other police officers. She approached the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) after the lecture and informed her of the incidents of molest.
When the DSP asked her why she had not lodged an official police report, the woman said she was in a state of confusion and was apprehensive of the consequences of making a report.
The DSP made an electronic police report the next day at about 9.10pm, stating that the victim had informed him of the molest the previous day.
The prosecution asked for a $9,000 fine, describing the case as “workplace sexual harassment by a fellow colleague”.
“The victim was vulnerable to the accused’s unwanted advances and such harassment would have a negative impact on anybody’s wellbeing, the sentence should reflect that such conduct cannot be condoned,” the prosecution said, noting that the offences showed a degree of persistence across the three occasions.
The man’s lawyer, T M Sinnadurai, sought a “minimum fine” stating that his client decided to plead guilty despite having originally chosen to go to trial.
His client is a first offender and was cooperative throughout investigations, the lawyer added.
The lawyer pointed out that all three incidents of molests were fleeting touches.
In sentencing the man, District Judge Ng Peng Hong noted that most of the offences did not involve skin to skin contact and agreed that a jail term was not warranted in the case.
The man could have been jailed up to two years, or fined, or caned, or any combination of the punishments on each count of molest.
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