SINGAPORE: A former physics teacher who had an inappropriate relationship with his student, then aged 15, was sentenced to 16 months' jail on Friday (Jul 13).
The 34-year-old, who cannot be named due to a gag order, was the girl's physics teacher when she was in Secondary 1 and 2.
The girl and the school cannot be named due to a court order.
According to court documents, the teenager was infatuated with the teacher and worked harder for his subject. She also told him that she wanted to become a physics teacher and asked for his advice.
Sometime in 2015, the teenager contacted the teacher via his handphone number, which had been given to all students for the arranging of physics consultations.
The pair started texting each other via WhatsApp and later video-called each other using Skype. Sometime before the final term examination in 2015, the conversation became more intimate and had sexual overtones.
After the exams, the teacher sent an explicit text message to the student. Initially, she did not know how to react, but she played along and they started exchanging sexual messages.
During a video call, the teacher asked to see the girl in her physical education (PE) T-shirt. He admitted that he liked to see students in their PE T-shirts as it "turned him on".
HE STARTED GIVING HER TUITION, WENT OUT AFTER
In June 2016, the teacher started to give tuition to the student and her sister at their home every week.
In September 2016, they went out for meals after tuition on some occasions. The teacher drove the student to East Coast Park. While inside the car, he would behave intimately with her. He also kissed and licked her neck and ear twice at the park.
Investigations revealed that the girl had never had a romantic relationship before this. Despite feeling "scared and uncomfortable", the girl allowed the teacher to carry out various acts with her, including kissing and touching. The teacher revealed that he had no feelings for the girl.
On Sep 7, 2016, the teacher gave tuition to the girl at her home. Sometime after noon, the teacher kissed the girl in his car and tried to pull her hand towards his crotch, but she pulled her hand away.
Later that evening, he told the girl that he had a room available and hinted that he wanted her to perform a sexual act on him. The next day, he picked her up and drove around to different places, including his flat. However, the girl did not want to enter his flat and they left, ending up at Pasir Ris Park.
A police officer on patrol saw the girl seated on the teacher's lap, holding hands, in Pasir Ris Park and alerted the girl's parents.
The girl's father then lodged a police report. The teacher asked the girl to delete their WhatsApp chat log, and he also did the same. Even so, some of the deleted chat messages on the teacher's phone were recovered through forensic examination.
On Friday, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt sentenced the teacher to 16 months' jail for three charges of committing or trying to commit indecent acts with a child or young person.
Three other charges were taken into consideration. As a first-time offender, he could have been jailed five years and fined up to S$10,000.
Repeat offenders face a jail term of up to seven years and a maximum S$20,000 fine.
The prosecution had asked for a 10-month jail sentence for each charge, arguing that the teacher used the victim's infatuation with him and trust in him to exploit her sexually.
While they did not have sexual intercourse, he groomed her sexually and would have continued if the police did not intervene, the prosecutor said in court.
The judge agreed that the teacher had exploited the girl.
Responding to queries from Channel NewsAsia, a Ministry of Education spokesman said that he had resigned from service in September 2016.
"MOE takes a serious view of educator misconduct and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against those who fail to adhere to our standards of conduct and discipline," said the spokesman.