Firm director molested subordinate, implied her dressing was to blame, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Firm director molested subordinate, implied her dressing was to blame

This article is more than 12 months old

A company director who molested a subordinate in three incidents over a few months, and implied that it was her fault for dressing in a “sexy and seducing” way, was jailed for a year by the High Court on Thursday.

Tan Chee Beng, 56, had initially been sentenced to five months’ jail by a district judge, who convicted him of one charge of outrage of modesty and acquitted him of three other charges.

But High Court judge Vincent Hoong said the decision of the district judge, who had pointed to purported omissions such as the woman’s failure to scream for help, was wrong.

Justice Hoong convicted Tan of all four charges, following an appeal by the prosecution against the acquittals.

He found that the woman’s testimony was “unusually convincing” and that her account was corroborated by the testimonies of three witnesses.

During his trial, Tan chose not to to take the stand to give his account.

“Faced with the unusually convincing and corroborated testimony of the complainant, the accused’s election to remain silent fortifies such a finding of guilt,” said Justice Hoong.

In sentencing, the judge noted Tan’s persistent course of sexual misconduct and his lack of remorse.

“His conduct demonstrated a clear pattern of workplace sexual harassment displayed through his repeated predatory actions towards his subordinate,” he said.

After the second incident, the woman sent a message to Tan to tell him that she did not feel comfortable with what he was doing, and that he should stop.

Tan called her to tell her that he was sorry and asked her to delete the message, which showed an intention to conceal evidence of his wrongdoing, said Justice Hoong.

The judge added that Tan tried to downplay his actions when confronted by the company’s largest shareholder after the third incident.

Tan said he was “just joking” and that the woman had dressed in a “sexy and seducing” way. He later claimed that he and the woman were having an affair to deflect blame.

Tan was one of two directors of the small company, in which he held a 10 per cent stake. The four charges pertained to his sexual harassment of the woman, a member of the administrative staff, between August 2018 and January 2019.

The woman testified that in the first incident, Tan told her that her hair smelled nice. He then told her that he had an erection and pulled her hand towards his groin.

She said she pulled her hand back and told him to stop. She got up from her seat and left the office, and told a co-worker about the incident.

In September 2018, Tan commented on her short dress and swiped her groin area with his hand.

Crying, she left the office and ran towards the warehouse area, where she told two co-workers that Tan “touched me there”.

After messaging Tan to stop, she told her direct supervisor - the other director - that Tan was “trying to be funny” with her.

Tan stopped touching her until January 2019, when he slid his hand along her back to the side of her breast while she was in the the cold room of the warehouse checking the products.

She later told a co-worker that Tan had “started his nonsense again”.

Another co-worker told the largest shareholder of the company, identified as PW4, about the incidents, and a meeting was arranged for her to meet him.

The woman testified that she was surprised that PW4, who had known Tan for “very long”, believed her.

After verifying the matter with her direct supervisor, he had a heated confrontation with Tan.

PW4 accompanied the woman to lodge a police report against Tan, and then told her to take two weeks’ unpaid leave.

But she was fired when she applied for the leave.

When PW4 found out about this, he told the two directors that this was unfair to her and that he would employ her in another company he ran.