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Singapore

Doctor acquitted of molesting woman after she admits to lying in court

Doctor acquitted of molesting woman after she admits to lying in court
Dr Yeo Sow Nam was acquitted of all counts of molesting a woman. (Photo: Mount Elizabeth's website)

SINGAPORE: An anaesthetist and director of a clinic at Mount Elizabeth Hospital was on Monday (Aug 16) acquitted of all counts of molesting a woman, after she admitted at trial that she was lying.

Dr Yeo Sow Nam, 52, was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal for four counts of outraging the 32-year-old woman's modesty at Mount Elizabeth on Oct 9, 2017.

The woman accused him of hugging her, squeezing her waist, gripping her breasts and kissing her head.

The prosecutors said they decided to withdraw the charges after considering the evidence as well as the defence lawyers' representations.

Dr Yeo's lawyers originally wanted the woman to be named and the gag order on her identity to be lifted.

However, they withdrew their application on Monday due to legal reasons, but stated that they would take up the case again if she is charged with giving false evidence. The prosecution has not made any decision on this yet.

Dr Yeo, who holds multiple positions such as the founder, past director and visiting consultant of the Pain Management Centre and the Acupuncture Service of Singapore General Hospital, contested the charges.

The woman was not a patient or a medical professional, but details about her link to Dr Yeo cannot be published due to the gag order that still stands.

Dr Yeo's lawyers, Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen and Johannes Hadi, said this was not a case where the prosecution was unable to prove a crime had been committed.

Instead, the complainant was not a victim but "a self-confessed perjurer", they said.

On questioning at trial, the woman agreed that she was knowingly giving false evidence to the court. She also "laughed" in court as if mocking Dr Yeo and his wife, said lawyer Mr Thuraisingam.

In a statement after his acquittal, Dr Yeo said he was a victim of "false and scurrilous allegations" in 2017 and has maintained his innocence from the start.

"Today, midway through the trial and after the complainant confessed to knowingly lying to the court about material aspects of her allegations, the prosecution has unconditionally withdrawn the charges against me. By the grace of God, I have been acquitted of all charges," he said.

He said the past four years were an ordeal for him, as well as his family, friends, staff and patients.

"Despite the distinction and professionalism with which I have served the community as a doctor, I have had to endure the distress and ignominy of being publicly accused of sex crimes I did not commit," he said.

He thanked his patients and colleagues for trusting him, as well as the Singapore Medical Council and other related associations and the medical community.

"I am glad that truth has prevailed today," said Dr Yeo.

"However, I am also disappointed that with her lies, the complainant has jeopardised the good, necessary, and difficult work of ensuring access to justice for real victims of sex crimes, many of whom already hesitate to accuse their attackers publicly," he said.

"I hope that today's verdict does not discourage real victims of sex crimes from coming forward, or set back the moral agenda in their favour."

Source: CNA/ll(cy)
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