SINGAPORE — A veteran track and field coach was on Wednesday (22 July) sentenced to 21 months’ jail for molesting an 18-year-old female trainee seven years ago.
Loh Siang Piow, also known as Loh Chan Pew, now 75, was found guilty last month of two charges of molesting the victim on two occasions in early 2013. The offences took place at the now-defunct Tampines Stadium.
She made a police report in July 2016 and Loh was charged soon after. His trial began at the State Courts in 2018.
In one incident, Loh repeatedly touched the victim’s private parts while he was massaging the back of her thighs at a bench along a corridor of the stadium. He rubbed her private parts while similarly massaging her thighs inside an equipment room of the stadium on another occasion.
Molested victim during massages
Loh is a prominent figure in the local athletics scene. He coached for 35 years and took up to 700 athletes under his wing. He was also a former national sprinter and a deputy superintendent of prisons.
The victim was an aspiring national athlete who started an intensive training programme under his tutelage from January to March 2013 after completing her A levels. The training included one-on-one sessions.
After one such session in February, Loh offered the victim a cool-down massage. As she lay on her front on a bench near the track, Loh massaged the back of her calves up to her thighs. His thumb repeatedly touched her private parts, but she didn’t raise any objections as she thought the contact was accidental.
The next month, Loh insisted on a massage despite the victim’s reluctance, this time on a massage bed in an equipment room. When he molested her in a similar manner, she asked him to stop. But the culprit simply asked her to relax. The victim tried to squeeze her thighs together but couldn’t deter the perpetrator.
After the incident, the victim went to the toilet to change and later accepted a meal with the coach, as she wanted to pretend that everything was normal. From then on, she only had group training sessions with Loh before ceasing contact with him in 2014.
Among the trial judge’s findings was that Loh’s testimony was incongruent whereas the victim’s was clear and consistent. After the incidents, she had also sent text messages to a female training partner and a male senior from her junior college expressing her discomfort. It would seem implausible that the victim would want to frame the coach three years later, the judge noted.
The prosecution had asked for a two-year jail term in total, while Loh’s lawyers asked for seven to 10 months’ jail.
The maximum punishment for using criminal force to outrage the modesty of a person is two years’ jail, along with a fine and caning, per charge. Only male offenders below 50 are liable for caning.
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