Man admits to taking upskirt and shower videos of women at Yale-NUS college

Man admits to taking upskirt and shower videos of women at Yale-NUS college

Yale-NUS college at night
Yale-NUS College campus at night (Photo: Yale-NUS)

SINGAPORE: A man living in a suite with five female students at Yale-NUS College took intrusive videos of four of them.

The identity of the 26-year-old man had been gag-ordered in an earlier court proceeding after the defence successfully applied to do so.

The defence had argued in a hearing last year that identifying the accused would identify the victims as they are from "a very small cohort".

The judge had said that there was no necessity to gag-order the accused's identity, but granted the order after the police prosecutor said that "we are OK with the gag order" to avoid compromising the identities of the victims.

The accused admitted to eight charges of insulting a woman's modesty on Monday (Jan 13), with another 16 charges taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court heard that the offender was a student at the time and took the clips between August 2017 and May 2018, and between January 2019 and March 2019.

He stayed in a suite with five women; each had their own bedroom but they shared a common bathroom.

The offences were exposed on Mar 3, 2019, when one of the 22-year-old victims went to the suite bathroom to take a shower.

While she was inside, the accused stood in front of the bathroom door and angled his phone down to film the woman.

The woman heard noises outside the bathroom and looked under the gap to see a pair of feet, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Lim.

When she looked up and saw the phone's camera pointing at her, she shouted for her boyfriend, who was at the suite with her.

She then grabbed a towel to cover herself and ran out of the bathroom. 

The accused ran to the sofa in the living room of the suite and deleted the video he had taken of the naked woman, as well as other incriminating videos.

He also emptied his deleted items folder and removed the black cover from the phone, which was white, to avoid recognition or suspicion.

The woman and her boyfriend asked the accused if he had seen anyone entering the suite, and asked to check his phone, but found nothing incriminating.

The accused took further steps to deflect suspicion from himself, including informing the couple that another housemate had entered the suite, and suggesting that the victim report the incident to the school.

He also suggested that someone from a party on another floor of the building could have entered the suite through the unlocked main door.

The victim escalated the matter to campus security through the Dean's fellows of the college, and was told that there were no relevant CCTV cameras installed in the suite, in the vicinity of the suite at that floor, or at the relevant staircases.

ACCUSED LIED TO SUITE MATES

She then told the accused that night that she intended to lodge a police report, and he said he was not the culprit.

However, just before the victim left for the police station, the accused gathered the suite mates and confessed to them that he was the one standing outside the bathroom, but lied that it was his first time doing so.

He also lied that he had not activated the video-recording function so no film was captured.

Believing him, the victim decided not to report the matter to the police just yet.

However, she lodged a police report 10 days after the incident. This was after a meeting between her parents and the accused's parents, organised by the church that both she and the accused attended.

A raid was conducted at the accused's home on Mar 13, 2019, and his phone, iPad, MacBook and hard drive were seized.

Incriminating videos that had been deleted from the hard drive were retrieved through forensic examination.

The accused, who is represented by lawyer Josephus Tan of Invictus Law, said he took the clips of his suite mates showering as it helped him destress from academic pressure.

After recording the videos, he stored some of them into a hard drive connected to his MacBook, and most of these were automatically uploaded to his iCloud account.

He said he rewatched the videos on his mobile phone whenever he felt overwhelmed with schoolwork.

Other than taking clips of his suite mates in the shower, he also pleaded guilty to filming upskirt videos of women in Yale-NUS College classrooms.

The judge adjourned mitigation and sentencing to Jan 31.

The penalty for each charge of insulting a woman's modesty is a maximum year's jail, a fine, or both.

Yale-NUS College said that it has dismissed the student for "breaching the college’s code of conduct and posing a safety risk to our community".

The dismissal took effect at end of October 2019, it added.

Source: CNA/ll(hm)

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