SINGAPORE: A doctor convicted of sexually assaulting his patient was on Wednesday (Feb 27) sentenced to 10 years' jail.
He was also ordered to pay the victim S$1,200 in compensation for the counselling fees she incurred to deal with the psychological and emotional effects from the assault, which took place in 2015 in his Bedok clinic.
Wee Teong Boo, 68, was found guilty on Monday of one charge of outrage of modesty and another charge of sexual assault by digital penetration. He was acquitted of the original rape charge.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz on Wednesday asked for a sentence of 12 years and seven months’ jail. Of this, three months was in lieu of seven strokes of the cane, as Wee is above the age of 50 and cannot be caned.
She said “medicine has long been regarded as the most noble of professions”, but Wee’s “senseless actions” violated its ethics and code, “forever shattering” the victim’s life.
“Forty-two years after entering a profession committed to the primacy of patient welfare, Wee Teong Boo stands before this court, convicted of sexual assaulting and molesting a young female patient during two medical examinations - his senseless actions violating the very ethical mores that every doctor swears to uphold,” said the prosecutor.
Wee has indicated his intent to appeal against the conviction and sentence.
GIVING TESTIMONY WAS LIKE BEING RAPED AGAIN: VICTIM
The prosecutor reminded the judge of the victim’s testimony during the trial, which the victim had likened to being “raped again”.
The woman, aged 23 when the assault took place, had told the court that after the incident, she “was living like a walking dead, walking as per normal, but I was just dead inside”. She also wondered why it happened to her, “out of so many patients”.
“What are the odds of being raped when you visit a medical professional in Singapore, in such a safe country? I cannot register why I am the one, I just can’t understand why it happened to me,” the prosecutor recalled the victim saying.
The incident affected her classes and "destroyed her trust in male doctors". The victim later requested only for female doctors whenever she visited a polyclinic. She also had trouble with her male friends, unable to accept any intimacy.
Wee was acquitted of the rape charge as the judge said he was satisfied that there was reasonable doubt as to whether penile penetration could have taken place.
On Wednesday, the prosecutor said Wee had been "utterly disgraceful" in court, in particular retorting during cross-examination: "I do not consider her (the patient) a victim."
"This barbed taunt smacks of arrogance and pure defiance and ... lack of remorse," said the prosecutor. She also said that Wee maligned the integrity and character of independent witnesses during the trial, claiming that a doctor on the stand was not giving objective evidence and instead was embellishing it to suit the prosecution's case.
He also maligned police officers, calling them "stupid" and "blatantly lying about ill treatment while in custody", said the prosecution.
Wee’s defence counsel Edmond Pereira said he will not be making submissions on sentence as his client is maintaining his innocence.
He pointed to Wee's history of medical conditions, including diabetes and hypertension, and pointed out that there was no need for the prosecution to increase an "already lengthy" jail term as Wee will be in his late 70s by the time he is released from prison.
He also tried contesting the compensation order relating to the victim's counselling fees, saying there was no evidence in court about the counselling when the victim testified.
Wee is out on bail pending his appeal. The prosecution will also be appealing against the acquittal of the rape charge, as well as the sentences for the sexual assault and outrage of modesty charges.