Police report filed by NUS against sacked teaching staff for sexual misconduct

The National University of Singapore.
The National University of Singapore. (Yahoo Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — The National University of Singapore (NUS) has filed a police report against sacked teaching staff Jeremy Fernando, following two allegations of sexual misconduct made by its students against him.

In a media release on Wednesday (21 October), the university said that it decided to alert the police “given the seriousness of the allegations”. It has also advised the two students to report the allegations of sexual misconduct to the police, in the company of an NUS staff.

“All allegations of misconduct are taken seriously, and the university stands firmly against all forms of inappropriate behaviour,” NUS said in the media release.

Timeline of events that led up to dismissal

NUS also clarified on the timeline of the events that led up to Dr Fernando’s dismissal, from when the first complaint of sexual misconduct was reported on 27 August.

Internal investigations found that Dr Fernando – a non-residential teaching staff of Tembusu College – had an “intimate association” with an undergraduate, which is a serious breach of NUS’ code of conduct for staff.

On 31 August, Dr Fernando was suspended from duty and banned from contacting any student or staff, or attending his workplace. A No Contact Order was also issued to him to prohibit him from contacting the first complainant.

The student was interviewed on her complaint, while a Victim Care Unit (VCU) care officer explored with her the option of making a police report. However, the student decided not to report the matter to the police.

On 7 September, NUS received a second complaint of sexual misconduct from a student against Dr Fernando. Despite the advices of a VCU care officer and the Tembusu College director, the student also decided not to report the matter to the police.

Dr Fernando was issued a No Contact Order for the second complainant on 14 September. The university completed its internal investigations on the second complaint seven days later, and informed Dr Fernando of the misconduct allegation. He was given seven days to respond to the allegation.

On 30 September, Dr Fernando responded to the university, and he was dismissed on 7 October. On the same day of his dismissal, the two students were informed of the outcome, while Tembusu College’s academic staff were also notified.

All staff members and students of the college were eventually informed via email of Dr Fernando’s dismissal on 18 October.

Info could have been shared in more timely manner: NUS

While NUS admitted that it could have shared information about the dismissal with Tembusu staff and students in a more timely manner, it said that it has to balance “interests of privacy and confidentiality, particularly for the victims involved”.

“Our priority is to ensure a strong level of support and care for the two students involved,” it said in the media release.

“When the incident was made known to the college, it immediately took action to protect the student community and worked with the VCU to facilitate a fair and prompt investigation that was conducted by the university.

“(VCU) has been providing care and support to the two students throughout the investigation process and will continue to do so.”

Tembusu College has also continued face-to-face engagement with students, student leaders and staff in small groups. Student leaders at the college have also started a ground-up initiative to form a community support working group to facilitate deeper dialogue within the college community.

In response to a request from its Students’ Union, NUS has published the Code of Conduct for Staff in the public domain for ease of access by staff and students. Previously, it was available only in the NUS staff intranet.

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