Music teacher found guilty of molesting student during cello lessons

Music teacher found guilty of molesting student during cello lessons

gavel file 2
A courtroom gavel. (Photo: AFP)

SINGAPORE: A music teacher was found guilty on Thursday (Apr 18) of molesting an 18-year-old student during private cello lessons at a music school.

The 33-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, claimed trial to four counts of outraging his student's modesty on two occasions in 2016.

The court heard that the first incident occurred in a classroom at the music school on Jun 25, 2016. The music school was not named in court documents.

During a cello lesson, the accused told her that her cello was not placed correctly against her body. He then placed his hand on the upper left side of her chest twice.

The victim testified during the trial that she felt "it was weird but she did not think much about it as she thought it was part of the teaching process".

About a week later, he molested her again in the same classroom, this time reaching his hand into her shirt.

The victim told the court that her teacher had been helping her tune her cello and asked her to play a tune before correcting her on the proper way to hold the instrument.

After this, the teacher pulled a chair to the middle of the room facing a piano and sat on it. He asked the victim to sit on the same chair, in between his legs.

He then touched the inside of her thigh and asked the victim if he could unhook her brassiere.

When she asked him why he wanted to do that, he replied "never mind" and returned to his own chair.

TEACHER DENIED OFFENCES, SAID ROOM WAS TOO SMALL

The teacher denied committing the offences and said he had no reason to touch the victim.

The doors of the classroom had glass panels that people could look through, he said, adding that it was difficult to move around in the "small" room.

However, the prosecution charged that the accused had previously taught classes with two to three people in the classroom.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Marshall Lim said the teacher had "tried very hard to establish that (the victim) was a poor student", performing below her stated grade and not being diligent in her practice.

The prosecution added that the principal of the school - who gave testimony saying the accused was a decent man - was a "biased witness", "a so-called principal of the school who did not know how his classrooms are numbered or named and admitted that he did not observe whatever happened inside the classroom".

The accused had also made claims he had to back down from or eventually qualify, said the prosecution.

In comparison, said the prosecutor, the victim was honest and gave a coherent account of the incidents, making no attempt to embellish her evidence.

District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said he believed the victim's evidence.

"I believe she was telling the truth," he said. "Her emotional outpouring to her mother is consistent with being molested. She has no reason to accuse him of such a serious allegation."

He added that he rejected the various defences put up by the teacher, who claimed the classroom was too small for the movements the victim claimed he made.

The accused will return to court for mitigation and sentencing next month. For each count of molesting the young woman, he could be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or a combination of these punishments.

Source: CNA/ll(aj)

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