Man jailed for taking upskirt, changing room videos of 104 women during time as NUS student

Man jailed for taking upskirt, changing room videos of 104 women during time as NUS student

File photo of National University of Singapore
File photo of the National University of Singapore (NUS). (Photo: Alif Amsyar)

SINGAPORE: A Chemistry student at the National University of Singapore (NUS), caught red-handed by a schoolmate snapping an upskirt clip of a woman on campus, was later found to have taken illicit shots of 104 women.

Desmond Teh Yu Kiat, 27, was sentenced on Tuesday (Aug 11) to 28 weeks' jail. Separately, NUS said in a statement to the media that it had imposed sanctions on Teh including suspension, mandatory counselling and community work.

Teh graduated from the university last year.

The court heard that Teh was a third-year student at NUS pursuing his Chemistry degree in 2017.

After a class on Mar 24, 2017, Teh took an upskirt video of a woman going up a flight of stairs on campus.

A male schoolmate saw this and repeatedly shouted: "Stop it because I can report you to the police."

Teh gestured in apology at the witness before walking away quickly.

The witness exchanged contact details with the victim and advised her to report the matter to campus security.

The victim filed a police report that day saying that Teh had taken an upskirt video of her while she was using the staircase leading to the canteen.

HUNDREDS OF OBSCENE CLIPS FOUND

Investigations began and Teh's phone and laptop were seized. A total of 230 videos consisting of upskirt videos and clips of victims changing in dressing rooms were recovered from these devices.

He had taken videos of 104 women between June 2015 and April 2017, with 70 clips capturing the victims' faces, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhou Yang.

Another 498 video files recovered from Teh's devices were classified as obscene as they contained explicit sexual acts. On top of this, another 96 upskirt videos that Teh had taken overseas were found on his devices.

Teh downloaded the videos of explicit sex acts from websites such as Tumblr and Volafile, and he had a Tumblr account which he used to post upskirt and downblouse photos that he downloaded online. He also shared such photos and videos with other users via the Kik messenger application.

He admitted picking shops with unisex changing rooms and entering one of the rooms in order to film women changing next door.

He took the upskirt clips at staircases, elevators or any elevated platforms, either walking closely behind the women or squatting down to take the shots.

These clips were shot at places like MRT stations, McDonald's outlets and various locations on NUS like the canteen, bookshop, sports hall, cafe, bus stop and on NUS' internal shuttle bus.

"The accused would feel tempted to take upskirt videos using his handphone whenever he (found) an attractive girl around the age of 20 to 25 who (was) dressed well," said the prosecutor.

Teh knew it was wrong to take such videos, but did not seek professional help until he was caught.

Teh pleaded guilty on Tuesday to three counts of insulting a woman's modesty and one charge under the Films Act, with another charge taken into consideration.

The prosecutor asked for at least 30 weeks' jail, noting the high degree of intrusion, planning and premeditation.

Teh's lawyer, Cheryl Sim of Regent Law, said that Teh has no previous convictions and that this is his first brush with the law.

She added that Teh has faced "inordinate delays in prosecution", as he was charged three years after his arrest despite having "every intention to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity".

She said Teh is "a bright individual with a good head on his shoulders" and "a very promising future".

He attended two sessions at the Institute of Mental Health in June and August 2017 and was diagnosed with paraphilic disorder, a disorder of sexual preference where sexual pleasure or gratification is derived from non-sexual objects or practices.

Teh "took proactive steps by attending counselling" at a centre and recognised "that he had a problem".

"He even expressed that he was relieved that he was caught as his stress-coping mechanism of taking upskirt videos had started to take over his life," said Ms Sim.

DISCIPLINARY SANCTIONS METED OUT: NUS

In a statement to CNA, an NUS spokesperson said that an internal board of discipline inquiry was held in May 2017 for an offence Teh committed on campus in March 2017.

The board decided to impose a range of disciplinary sanctions on him, including suspension of candidature for two semesters, mandatory counselling and community work.

"The disciplinary sanctions meted out by the Board of Discipline form part of the student's formal educational record at the university," said the spokesperson. "Teh has since graduated in 2019."

The university said it takes "a strong stand against sexual misconduct", and that "the safety and well-being of our students remain our top priorities".

"In June 2019, NUS enhanced the disciplinary framework for sexual misconduct offences," said the spokesperson. 

"Students who have breached NUS statutes and regulations face severe sanctions, including suspension and expulsion. The university also provides greater support for victims through the victim care unit, and conducts training for all staff and students to build a culture of respect on campus."

For each count of insulting a woman's modesty, Teh could have been jailed for up to a year, fined, or both.

For possessing obscene films, he could have been fined at least S$500 per film up to a total of S$20,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(nc)

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