Jail, caning for male ex-teacher who molested 13 secondary schoolboys from CCA group he coached
A former secondary school English and literature teacher, who molested 13 male students in a CCA group he coached, was sentenced to three years and six months’ jail on Nov 20.
The 40-year-old married man, who was also sentenced to eight strokes of the cane and fined $2,500, had touched the boys’ private parts, among other lewd acts, over a span of four years.
The offences took place from 2015 to 2018 mainly in school, in a clubroom for the co-curricular activity (CCA), sometimes in full view of other CCA members.
One boy became a victim at 13 and suffered in silence for three years, as he did not know who he could approach for help.
The man, an allied educator at the time of the offences, pleaded guilty a second time on Nov 20 to six charges involving five boys who were between 13 and 15 years old at the time. The charges included multiple counts of molestation.
Twenty-three other charges, including those linked to the remaining eight boys, were considered during sentencing. His wife watched the proceedings from the gallery in a district court.
The man pleaded guilty in October 2022 to the six charges, but this plea was later rejected. The reasons for the rejection were not mentioned in court on Nov 20.
Details about the man and the school cannot be disclosed due to a gag order to protect the victims’ identities.
In late 2015, he molested a 13-year-old boy at a chalet during an overnight gathering for the CCA.
The boy had fallen asleep on a sofa, but woke up to find himself on a bed and the man touching his private parts.
He was too afraid to react and pretended to sleep while the act continued for 10 to 15 minutes. The boy got up only after assuming that the man had fallen asleep.
The man was in school when he targeted the same boy between 2016 and 2017 by demanding that the youngster kiss him on the lips.
Although the boy was reluctant, he felt pressured by the offender and agreed to do so.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Zu Zhao said that the boy felt disgusted and extremely uncomfortable, but kept silent because he did not know how to react.
The DPP told the court: “He felt helpless and did not know who he could approach for help. He did not confide in his close friends or family because he did not know how to explain the situation and was unsure of how they would react.”
Feeling extremely stressed about the incidents, the boy called the helpline of advocacy organisation Association of Women for Action and Research’s sexual assault care centre and said that he had been molested by the man.
But when a case manager from the centre tried to contact the boy later, the youngster did not respond because he was afraid.
The CCA’s clubroom in the school was used by the boys for their activities, the court heard.
The man had treated the room as his “personal staff room” and had a desk there. The room, referred to as “the lab”, was where most of the offences took place.
The blinds in the room were also always closed on his instructions. He would remind the boys: “Whatever happens in the lab stays in the lab.”
When he was in the room with the boys, the man would call the victims over to his desk to talk and touch them inappropriately. He would also go to the victims while they were working and touch them.
DPP Lee said: “The accused created an environment where inappropriate touching by him was normalised on the pretext of him acting affectionately in a brotherly or playful manner.”
Four other victims were molested in the room between 2017 and 2018. The man had touched the boys’ private parts and harassed one of them by performing a lewd act in front of the victim.
The offences came to light after a CCA member told his mother in October 2018 that he had witnessed the man touching and kissing some of his schoolmates. The woman lodged a police report later that month.
According to the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) website, allied educators include school counsellors, student welfare officers and those whose job scopes also include teaching.
In a statement in December 2021, MOE told The Straits Times that the man left the teaching service in November 2018.
On Monday, defence lawyer Riko Isaac pleaded for his client to be given two years and 11 months’ jail with eight strokes of the cane.
He told the court that the former teacher is very remorseful and had displayed a severe lapse of personal judgment at the time of the offences.
For each count of molesting a child below 14 years old, an offender can be jailed for up to five years, fined, caned or receive any combination of such punishments.