SINGAPORE: A flight attendant was convicted on Monday (Jan 17) of molesting a female colleague during a flight from Singapore to the Philippines in 2019.
The 50-year-old man, whose name was redacted from court documents, was found guilty at the close of trial of one charge of outraging the modesty of a 27-year-old flight stewardess.
He had slapped her buttock on May 3, 2019, when walking past her on the plane. The victim was bent over slightly, attending to a passenger.
Details of the airline and names of involved parties were redacted from court documents, and a gag order is in force preventing the publication of anything that could identify the victim.
The accused denied touching or slapping the victim's buttock. He claimed to have only "tapped" the victim's "right side of the pelvic" when he saw that she was leaning against the seat, adding that her buttocks were "protruding" into the aisle.
He described her posture as "provocative" and claimed that he touched her to correct her posture.
According to the prosecution's case, the victim had been working as a flight stewardess with an airline for about three years and was deployed in the business class cabin on the day of the incident.
She reported directly to the accused. About 30 minutes before the plane was to land in the Philippines, the victim attended to a passenger seated in business class.
The passenger wanted to show her an item he wanted to buy from a magazine, and the stewardess was standing next to him. She testified that she was standing with her knees slightly bent, her upper body leaning slightly forward and tilted a bit towards the chair.
Suddenly, she felt a "smack" on her right buttock and jolted up in response to the contact, she recounted at trial.
She saw the accused walking past her, and there was no one else behind her. The accused stopped, looked at her and told her "don't, lah, stand like this" in a "cheeky or a playful manner".
The victim did not confront the accused immediately as she was shocked and did not know how to react, and also because she was still attending to the passenger.
After the incident, she told the leading steward what happened. After the flight landed and the crew were preparing for the turnaround flight, the accused approached her and apologised, the victim said.
According to her, he said he had "no intention to do it", but the victim asked him what other intention he could have had. The accused kept repeating that he had "no intention", she said.
During the transit in the Philippines, the victim sent messages to her ward leader to tell him what the accused had done. She said it was "intentional, it was not a grope or an accidental touch", but a "hard slap (smack)".
On the turnaround flight, the victim was deployed to work in the economy class cabin. In the presence of other colleagues, the accused apologised to the victim, who asked him to state what he was apologising for.
She told him: "From the look on your ... unwavering face, this is not your first time."
The accused then swore on his mother and his religious text that this was his first time.
During the confrontation, he admitted to hitting the victim's buttock, she said.
The victim lodged a police report after she landed in Singapore.
The accused will return to court for mitigation and sentencing in March. For outraging a person's modesty, he could be jailed for up to two years and fined. He cannot be caned as he is 50.