SINGAPORE — A witness testifying at the trial of a director who is accused of molesting two colleagues said on Thursday (13 February) that one of the victims had confided in him about an alleged molest incident.
The witness, who was the victim’s colleague and her supervisor for six months, said the 43-year-old woman had approached him one morning in 2017 to talk about her “personal problem”.
The director from the education sector claimed trial on Monday to charges of molesting the 43-year-old and a 55-year-old woman at his workplace in Singapore as well as on work trips to the Philippines, Myanmar and Vietnam. Due to a gag order, no details that can lead to the identification of the victims can be published.
In early 2017, the 43-year-old woman had approached her colleague and the two went to a hawker centre near their office to talk.
“She told me that one day she was seated down in the office and that (the accused) was standing at her back and then (he) brushed her arm.”
He said that he could not recall if the victim had specified a body part. He then asked the woman if the accused had exposed himself to her, to which the woman replied no, the colleague added.
Asked by the Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Yiling why he posed that question, the colleague replied that he had attended a course that taught participants to establish whether an alleged act was criminal or not. If it were, he would have advised her to make a police report, he added.
The victim had also told him it was not the first time she had the experience. “At that point I thought I should escalate this matter and asked her whether she would want me to relay this to my chief executive”, he said.
That same day, the colleague sent an email to the senior management, stating that the victim wanted to see her.
He said he had escalated the matter as he was no longer the victim’s supervisor and that the accused was his superior then.
A police report about the incident was lodged in 2018.
After the report was made, the colleague testified that he “began to become very careful” of what he said to the victim to the extent that he “stopped talking to her unless it was absolutely necessary”.
Under cross examination by the man’s lawyer, Gary Low, it emerged that there was a dispute between the accused and the victim after a presentation held on 13 September 2017.
The colleague and the victim were placed in the same team for the presentation and they were given specific instructions by the accused. However, the victim had gone against the instructions, in the presence of the accused.
Low recounted the incident to the witness in court. In response, while the colleague did not remember the incident clearly, he said the victim had been “quite unrepentant about being corrected”.
“She voiced disagreement with me after meeting (the accused). At that time that left an impression to me that the victim was in - my own terms - unteachable. I have developed a habit of not teaching people who are unteachable.”
While there was no heated exchange during the meeting, the victim later told her colleague that she was not in the wrong.
The accused and the colleague also discussed the victim’s work during performance reviews. Regarding this, Low asked the witness whether the victim had given inconsistent work quality.
The colleague replied, “I would say (she) is an above average worker and she is quite a go-getter. But over the years that I have known her, I won’t rate her (work) knowledge as very high. On a number of occasions, I had to correct what she has said…I would say she would have made her share of mistakes and errors.”
The alleged first victim has testified. The trial continues on Thursday with the alleged second victim testifying in camera.
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