15 months' jail for ex-teacher at top school who molested student who later committed suicide
A former teacher from one of Singapore's top schools who entered into a relationship with an underage student and molested her in 2011 was on Tuesday (May 24) sentenced to 15 months' jail.
The sentencing concludes the case that was brought to the police in 2018, after the victim broke her silence about the offence that occurred when she was 15 years old.
The court heard that she fell into depression following the offence and committed suicide in May last year, when she was 25 years old.
The offender, a Singaporean man, now 47, pleaded guilty in November 2020 to two charges of committing an indecent act on a young person under the Children and Young Persons Act. Two other charges under the same Act were considered during sentencing.
Details about the offender and the school cannot be disclosed owing to a gag order to protect the victim's identity.
District Judge Eddy Tham said on Tuesday: "This case shows the long term consequences of the offences led to a tragic loss of a precious life."
He added: "It illustrates that a sexual act on a young person can have a devastating effect... And shows why the law is there to protect a young person to prevent them from being exploited."
The former teacher was held in high regard, which worsened the degree of the breach of trust against the student, the judge added.
He had earlier called for a report to assess the man's suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO) to find out, among other things, whether the man's history of bipolar disorder contributed to his unlawful acts. Offenders given an MTO will undergo treatment for their mental conditions in lieu of jail time.
The MTO suitability report showed that the man's condition did not have a contributory link to his offences, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jean Ting in her submissions.
Investigations showed that he made his advances on the victim only when they were alone in a room at the school premises.
The DPP, who sought at least 12 months' jail for the accused, said: "This demonstrates that he was careful about and could control when he committed these indecent acts. He was clearly conscious that his actions were inappropriate."
In earlier proceedings, the court heard that the man joined the school in 2009 and got to know the victim when he taught her the following year. He was also the teacher in charge of a co-curricular activity where she was student leader.
They grew close and began a relationship in early 2011, during which the man made multiple advances and also molested her by surprise.
In August 2018, the victim told a female teacher at the school about her relationship with the man. Court documents did not disclose why she decided to break her silence then.
The teacher spoke to the vice-principal, who alerted the principal. The principal made a police report on Oct 2 that year.
In November 2020, the Ministry of Education told The Straits Times that the man was no longer an employee since 2018.
The man's jail term will begin on May 30.