SINGAPORE — A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) masseur was found guilty on Friday (28 February) of removing a female customer’s bra without her permission and touching her breasts while massaging her.
Wang Lin, a Chinese national, had claimed trial to a single charge of molest at the clinic where he worked, located in central Singapore.
In passing the guilty verdict, District Judge Jasvender Kaur said that she did not find Wang or his female colleague’s evidence to be reliable.
“I reject the accused's version of what had happened. I find the (victim) to be an 'unusually convincing' witness and I am satisfied that the charge has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said.
Wang, 48, moved to Singapore to stay with his family after marrying a Singaporean. He found employment as a masseur in Singapore, and worked previously at two other TCM clinics before moving to the current one on 5 November 2017.
The customer, whose age was not disclosed in court documents, had visited the TCM clinic for the first time on 2 December 2017 and was massaged by Wang while dressed in a room.
Following the first session, the victim bought a package worth $588 and booked a next appointment on 9 December that year. She later rescheduled her appointment for 16 December.
When the victim visited the clinic again on 16 December at about 2pm, she was attended to by Wang who told her to remove her top before leaving the room, the prosecution said.
When the victim asked why, Wang replied that the treatment required the removal. The victim also noted that there was no towel in the room. When Wang returned, the victim informed him there was no towel and was handed one.
The victim removed her T-shirt, keeping her bra on, and covered herself with the towel lengthwise from her neck all the way to her calf area before lying face down on the massage bed.
Wang then entered the room and started the massage. During the session, he twice said “we need to take this off” and removed the victim’s bra straps and unbuckled the bra without her permission. The victim was concerned initially but thought Wang had wanted to avoid staining her bra.
He then massaged on the victim’s bare back. However, he went further to pull down the victim’s trousers and panties, exposing half her buttocks, and massaged the area as well.
Despite her misgivings, the victim thought that Wang was massaging her spinal cord, and did not object. Wang pulled up the victim’s trousers and panties shortly after.
Wang asked the victim to turn around and she did so, while covered by the towel. He continued kneading her until the victim exclaimed from a sharp pain on her left breast. Wang then lifted the towel to look at the victim’s breast, making the victim uncomfortable. After resuming the massage, Wang molested her.
After she left the clinic, the victim met the friend who introduced her to it, and told her of her suspicions. She told one other friend about the incident, before lodging a police report the next day.
Victim’s testimony ‘highly unbelievable’
Defending Wang, lawyer Wilbur Lua argued that the prosecution had failed to prove its case as the victim’s testimony was not “unusually convincing or compelling” and were instead “highly unbelievable and improbable in light of the known facts and circumstances”.
“There were multiple aspects of the (victim’s) testimony that were directly contradicted by the evidence of independent witnesses in the trial. There was no independent corroboration of the (victim’s) allegations. The only corroboration, in the form of the complaints made by the (victim) to her friends, was ultimately self-made by the (victim) herself,” said the lawyer.
Lua added that there was a “distinct possibility” that the victim had embellished her evidence.
The lawyer said that his client had “demonstrated absolute candour during his testimony” by telling the truth, even when he risked appearing inconsistent.
According to the defence, the victim had removed the bra on her own at Wang’s request. She had also asked Wang if he could massage her chest for her.
“(Wang) became flustered, he told the (victim) that he could not do that as he was a guy and that such actions would attract a complaint.
“However the (victim) insisted and said that she would not complain against him,” said Lua. Wang complied but told the vicim that he would arrange for another colleague to massage her at the next session and quickly ended the massage.
Wang claimed he had told a female colleague about the incident the next morning and asked her to attend to the victim next time. He only learned later that the victim had filed a complaint and threatened to call the police.
Wang will return to court on 6 March to be sentenced.
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