SINGAPORE: During a class at a language training and literacy centre, a reading specialist molested a three-year-old pupil while the children watched a video.
British national Richard Christopher Monks, 29, pleaded guilty on Monday (Feb 1) to one charge of using criminal force to outrage a minor's modesty. He had originally been set for a trial but decided to admit to the charge.
The court heard that Monks worked at a language centre that was not named in court documents. The students there were aged between two-and-a-half and 12.
The victim was 3 years and 11 months old at the time of the offence and attended Monks' lessons at the centre every Saturday, calling him "Teacher Richard".
On Oct 20, 2018, she went for her lesson in a classroom with a table in the middle of the room. The victim was the youngest in a class of six, with her classmates aged four or five.
At about 5.20pm, Monks gathered all the students to sit on one side of the table for a video-watching session, placing himself behind the students and opposite a closed-circuit television camera that he knew was in the room.
This way, the students' upper bodies blocked the camera's view of his hands, while the lower halves of the kids' bodies could not be captured.
After playing a video on his phone and placing it on the table for the students to watch, Monks sat behind the victim and repeatedly slid his hand under her dress to molest her.
Uncomfortable at his touch, the victim expressed her discomfort by fidgeting and turning back to look at him several times. The clip of the incident was played in open court. Despite the victim's reactions, Monks continued to molest the girl.
The crime went undetected until Oct 27, 2018, when the girl's parents were preparing to take her to another of Monks' lessons. The girl appeared reluctant, and when questioned, told her mother that "Teacher Richard" had touched her.
When asked where he touched her, the girl pointed to her buttocks and said this happened during the previous lesson. The victim's mother lodged a police report that day and stopped taking their child for lessons at the centre.
Investigations showed that Monks had repeatedly pointed his handphone camera at the victim's buttocks the day he molested her, but he left Singapore on Oct 27, 2018, the day the report was lodged.
He travelled to Thailand and returned to Singapore on Oct 31, 2018 and was arrested a day later. He claimed that he had lost his handphone in Thailand, so it cannot be determined how many photos or videos he had taken.
Monks will return to court for mitigation and sentencing on Wednesday.
For using criminal force to outrage the modesty of a minor, he could be jailed for up to five years, fined, caned, or given any combination of these punishments.