Secondary school molest case: Victim recounted alleged act for teachers, vice-principal

Hannah Teoh
Senior Content Producer
Singapore’s State Courts. (Yahoo file photo)

A teenage student who was allegedly molested in school by his art teacher demonstrated to another teacher how the alleged molest took place using a pair of school shorts.

The latter, who oversees the school’s Secondary 2 students and who also taught the victim physical education (PE), took the stand in the State Courts on Monday (12 February).

The ongoing trial centres around an art teacher who allegedly molested one of his male students, who was 13 years old at the time. He faces three charges of molest for allegedly touching the boy on his groin, buttocks, thigh and chest while they were in the school’s art room.

All parties involved in the case cannot be named due to a court-imposed gag order.

The PE teacher told the court that he came to know of the incident on the night of 17 February 2016 when he received a call from the victim’s co-form teacher. He then called the school’s vice-principal, who said that the victim would have to write a statement about the alleged incident while in school

While in school the next day, the victim was told the PE teacher to be “very honest” and “very factual” while writing the statement. The PE teacher and co-form teacher then accompanied the victim to an empty room where he was instructed to write down the details of the incident while the two teachers waited outside.

According to the PE teacher, the victim took an hour and 20 minutes to write the statement.

The PE teacher, co-form teacher and vice-principal then read the statement and asked the victim to clarify what he meant by “touched” in his statement. The PE teacher then retrieved a pair of school shorts from the office and the vice-principal asked the victim to hold the shorts and show where the art teacher had allegedly placed his hand.

According to the PE teacher, the victim demonstrated that the art teacher’s hand had gone through the bottom of the shorts. The vice-principal later arranged for the victim to see a Ministry of Education counsellor.

The art teacher’s lawyer Shashi Nathan asked the PE teacher if he thought there was a possibility of the victim having made up his story – to which the teacher replied that he did think it was possible but was not in a position to judge whether or not it was true.

“I have not come across such incidents in my years in the school. I could not imagine such incidents happening,” said the PE teacher.

When asked by Nathan whether the victim said the art teacher had touched him on his groin area or buttocks under the shorts, the PE teacher said he could not recall whether he saw the victim’s hand had gone up through the back or the front of the shorts during the demonstration.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong asked the PE teacher to describe the hand actions of the victim during the demonstration with the pair of shorts. The latter said he saw the victim’s hand go through the “leg space of the shorts” and that there was a “slight movement of the arm to indicate there was touching”.

When asked by DPP Chong how he interpreted those actions, the teacher said, “It was not an accidental touching but a purposeful touching of the victim’s body.” The teacher added that he could not remember the exact words the victim used to describe where he was touched.

The school’s vice-principal also took the stand and told the court that she had spoken to the art teacher separately and asked him to write a statement of what happened. The art teacher took about 10 to 15 minutes to write his statement, she said.

She also brought the pair of school shorts to the art teacher and asked him where he had allegedly touched the victim. She said the art teacher said he had tugged at the seam of the victim’s shorts near the pocket.

The vice-principal also described a conversation with the victim’s parents on 18 February, describing them as being “very angry” and “very upset”. The vice-principal added that the victim’s mother asked if the art teacher had admitted to touching her son’s private parts, to which the vice-principal replied that the art teacher had not done so.

The trial continues until Wednesday.

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