SINGAPORE: Both the prosecution and defence took to court on Thursday (Mar 26) to appeal the case of a doctor who was acquitted of raping his patient but convicted of sexually assaulting and molesting her.
Dr Wee Teong Boo, 69, was sentenced to 10 years' jail in February last year and ordered to pay the victim S$1,200 in compensation for the 2015 assault in his Bedok clinic.
He was acquitted of the original rape charge after the judge found there was reasonable doubt that he raped the victim as he suffered from erectile dysfunction, with his wife testifying that he was "soft like (a) noodle".
Dr Wee was convicted instead of a charge of sexual assault by digital penetration and another of outrage of modesty, with the judge accepting Dr Wee's claim that he had digitally penetrated the victim but rejecting his argument that this was for a genuine medical purpose.
The prosecution on Thursday urged the Court of Appeal to convict Dr Wee of the rape charge and affirm his conviction of the molest charge.
Should the sexual assault charge be upheld, the prosecutors argued that Dr Wee's sentence should be increased to a total sentence of 12 years and nine months' jail as the current sentence is inadequate.
In contrast, the defence urged the court to affirm the acquittal of the rape charge and overturn both convictions of molest and sexual assault.
THE PROSECUTION'S CASE
The case put forward by the prosecution is that Dr Wee sexually assaulted his regular patient, then aged 23, when she consulted him at his clinic on two occasions.
He first molested her while performing a medical examination when she went to him for gastric discomfort in November 2015.
She went back to him over frequent urination and itching in her privates on Dec 30, 2015.
Under the guise of a medical examination, Dr Wee allegedly stood between her legs and she heard the sound of a zipper before feeling a painful sensation in her privates.
She said she then saw Dr Wee's unzipped pants and his privates partly inside her.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Lee Lit Cheng, Chew Xin Ying and Sarah Siaw argued that the trial judge had found the victim an honest witness with "compelling", "believable" evidence "without embellishment".
The judge had found Dr Wee "dishonest and not credible", after the accused said in court that he had forgotten to use lubricant while medically examining the victim with his ungloved fingers, but earlier telling police that he had used saliva as lubricant.
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The trial judge had acquitted Dr Wee of rape due to reasonable doubt as he might not have been able to rape the victim due to erectile dysfunction, but the prosecutors said the judge had made a mistake with this.
"The medical evidence cannot and does not trump the direct factual evidence," said the prosecutors.
They said the victim had a "clear and credible account" that she saw and felt the rape, and that Dr Wee had testified himself that he was able to and did have sex around the time of the offence.
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"The accused told the police in his statement two days after the rape that he did not have erectile dysfunction and admitted in court that he did not actually think he had erectile dysfunction at the time he gave the statement," said the prosecutors.
He repeatedly testified in court that he was able to have sex with his wife in December 2015 and told a urologist assessing him in April 2016 that he had had sex with his wife in January 2016.
The prosecutors argued that Dr Wee had decided to rely on erectile dysfunction as his defence only after completing his testimony.
THE DEFENCE'S CASE
Defence lawyers Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen and Johannes Hadi urged the court to overturn the convictions and uphold the acquittal, saying the trial judge had erred in finding the victim an honest witness.
Her testimony was not unusually convincing, and she had lied about circumstances surrounding the rape and molest charges, said the lawyers.
They said the victim's testimony differed with that of clinic assistants on duty that night, with the victim saying she was in a state of shock but the assistants testifying that she appeared calm.
She lied "explicitly about each of the four acrobatic positions that Dr Wee allegedly manhandled her into during the alleged rape".
She had a good motive to lie about the offences, said the defence lawyers, as she was angry that Dr Wee conducted an internal pelvic examination on her.
"She was also angry that her mother had dismissed her complaint about the way that Dr Wee had checked her private parts," said the counsels.
She testified during cross-examination that her mother appeared to blame her for the encounter after she learned of it, and the defence said she fabricated the molest allegation "to buttress her false allegation of rape".
There was also "inconclusive medical evidence", as an examination of the victim's private parts revealed injuries that could be attributed to both digital or penile penetration.
Dr Wee had been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction by the prosecution's expert, the defence pointed out.
The trial judge had accepted the evidence of Dr Wee's wife, who said that his penis was "soft like a noodle" in 2015 and that he needed the use of his hand during sexual intercourse and was not always able to achieve an erection.
The lawyers also said that the trial judge had erred in convicting Dr Wee of sexual assault as he was not given the opportunity to be heard on this specific allegation, suffering grave prejudice as a result.
They argued also that Dr Wee suffered prejudice and a failure of justice throughout the trial as three prosecution exhibits were disclosed late and that the victim was accompanied by the investigating officer in the witness room.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Justice Belinda Ang and Appeal Judge Steven Chong reserved judgment, and findings will be released at a later date.