Former primary school teacher gets jail, caning for molesting 12-year-old boy during sleepover
SINGAPORE: A former primary school teacher was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' jail and three strokes of the cane on Thursday (Sep 9) for molesting a 12-year-old boy who was his student.
The 36-year-old was found guilty of outrage of modesty and attempted outrage of modesty for the offences committed during a sleepover at his home in 2017.
He cannot be named due to gag orders imposed by the court protecting the identity of the victim, who is now aged 16.
The Ministry of Education previously said that the man has been suspended from service since July 2017 and is no longer teaching in any school.
According to court documents, the man became godfather to the boy who was raised by a single mother. They had a “father-son relationship” and the sleepover was intended for them to bond, court documents stated.
During the sleepover on Jun 15, 2017, the man asked if the boy masturbated and watched pornography. He also showed the victim pornography, all done under the “guise of sexual education”.
He later tapped the victim’s penis once over his shorts. When there was no sign of rejection, he touched the boy and the victim slapped his hand away.
When the boy was about to fall asleep, he tried to touch the victim’s penis again, according to the court documents.
When the boy confronted him, he tried to "normalise" his sexual acts as something a father would do to gain the trust of his child.
At the time, the victim’s mother treated the man as family and trusted him enough to allow him into her home unsupervised. She also allowed her son to go to his home unsupervised, the court heard.
ACTIONS WERE “PREMEDITATED”
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lim Ying Min asked for the man to be jailed for between 31 and 34 months and given five strokes of the cane, noting the aggravating factors of his offences.
She said that his acts of molest against a 12-year-old boy were “premeditated, deliberate and highly intrusive”.
“Most grave of all was the fact that the accused had capitalised on the victim’s mother’s trust in him to take care of her son. She trusted him not only because he was her son’s form teacher, but also because she saw him as family,” she said.
Ms Lim also noted that he abused his position of trust as the boy’s former teacher and godfather, adding that the man’s actions were not “merely opportunistic” but committed with careful thought.
“The accused’s sexual abuse of the victim was not a single occasion of momentary impulsivity and depravity,” she said.
The prosecutor added that the boy was vulnerable as he never had a father figure in his life. The emotional manipulation employed by the man on the boy was “significant”, she added.
For example, when the victim avoided all attempts by the accused to meet up after the sexual assaults, the man lied to the victim that he would stop his medication for brain tumour and subsequently told the victim that he was at the hospital.
“This caused the victim to feel guilty. The victim felt that he should be there for the accused. He tried to forget about the sexual assaults by reminding himself of the good father the accused had been,” Ms Lim said.
BOY WAS DEPRESSED WITH “NO LIFE IN HIM”
A counsellor assigned to the victim observed him to be “depressed with no life in him”, according to court documents. The counsellor reported that the victim had self-harm and suicidal thoughts because of what happened.
He was unable to talk about the betrayal of trust and abuse by the accused as the memories were “too painful”. The counsellor assessed that the boy was possibly still in a state of “post-traumatic shock as well as in a state of numbing to block off the past”.
At the trial, the boy had testified that after the incident, he became insecure, more sensitive and easily angered.
He showed the court a tattoo of the words "trust no one" on his arm, which he said he got after the incident because he finds it "very hard to trust" people, especially his friends and even his family members.
He also stopped going to school to avoid questions about the man, as his friends knew the accused as his father who would usually pick him up from school.
“Contrary to his role as a teacher and a father to guide, nurture and mould the child, the accused had effectively destroyed the child’s life,” Ms Lim said.
In sentencing the former teacher on Thursday, District Judge John Ng cited aggravating factors such as the abuse of a position of trust.
His actions were deliberate and not opportunistic, said the judge, adding that this reflected a "higher culpability”.
The man’s lawyer, Mr Kalaithasan Karuppaya, told the court that he will be appealing against the conviction and sentence.
For molesting a minor, the man could have been jailed for up to five years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of the three punishments. Attempted molestation carries up to half of the punishment.