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'To me, her stop didn't actually mean a stop', says man on trial for molesting woman during SMU study session

'To me, her stop didn't actually mean a stop', says man on trial for molesting woman during SMU study session

Lee Yan Ru at the State Courts on Sep 7, 2020. (Photo: TODAY/Raj Nadarajan)

SINGAPORE: When the woman he had invited to Singapore Management University (SMU) for an overnight study session told him to stop after he pressed himself on her chest, a man did not stop.

Instead, he persisted in his actions and ejaculated on the woman's shoulder very shortly after.

Testifying on the stand on Monday (Apr 5), 24-year-old undergraduate Lee Yan Ru said: "To me, her 'stop' didn't actually mean a stop."

He continued: "To me, I believe she wanted me to carry on, because I felt like - throughout the night, she was getting more comfortable with me, there was this coy behaviour from her so ... I took it she was fine with my advances, fine with me taking things step by step, and when she said 'stop', I didn't see it as a stop, and hence I carried on what I was doing."

Lee is contesting a single charge of using criminal force on the woman by rubbing his privates on her chest in a study room at SMU on Jan 8, 2019, intending to outrage her modesty.

The woman, who is now 22, cannot be named as her identity is protected by a gag order.

READ: SMU student grilled on the stand about consent as woman he allegedly molested sits in to listen

Lee was testifying about the event that made up the charge sheet under the direction of his lawyer, Ms Josephine Chee from Rajah & Tann.

He had met the woman in person the day before on Jan 7, 2019, after a few days of messaging each other on Telegram and Instagram. He first sent her a message on Instagram when he saw her profile in the "Discover" tab which recommends profiles to users. After meeting at a cafe near SMU, they agreed to meet that same night for a study session in the university.

After completing their work, taking several smoke breaks and watching a movie together in the wee hours of the night, the pair lay down in the study room - with Lee lying across a few chairs and the woman lying on the floor with a jacket over her face.

After napping for a while, Lee said he woke up and knelt over the woman. He used both hands to touch her breast to wake her up, and she woke up and removed the jacket from her face.

At this point, Lee said he "felt aroused" and exposed himself before rubbing his private parts against the woman's chest. 

She told him "stop", and Lee said he replied "a while more" before continuing his actions. He tried to stand up but accidentally ejaculated on the woman's shoulder, he said. She continued to lie on the floor as he tried to clean up the woman.

SHE COULD HAVE PUSHED ME AWAY, SHOUTED: LEE

Explaining why he thought she was "fine", Lee said: "Her arms and legs were completely free ... so to me, if she really meant stop or if she really did not want me to proceed with what I was doing, she could have done like many things, like - push me away, hit me, she could have (shouted), but she did not, she let me carry on with what I was doing."

According to the woman's testimony last year, she was asleep when she woke up to see Lee committing those acts. 

READ: Woman says she felt angry to be 'disrespected and degraded' by SMU student who allegedly molested her in classroom

She said she felt embarrassed and angry to be "disrespected and degraded in that manner".

After Lee cleaned the woman up, he said she started packing her belongings and threw out a "tactical pen" in front of him, a self-defence pen that he was seeing for the first time that night.

According to Lee, she then flipped through a file containing his documents and read out his name and address before saying: "I told you I know martial arts, but I did not use them on you. I told you that I studied the law, so wait for my lawyer's letter."

"She then added - 'Imagine how disappointed your parents would be when they receive it', and also said along the lines of - your future is gone," said Lee.

When asked how he felt to hear this, Lee said he was shocked.

"I was shocked she said all that because throughout the night, all the way till the end where I ejaculated onto her right shoulder area, throughout the whole process, she was fine with it, I believe (it) was consensual, then when she told me to wait for a lawyer's letter I was shocked because I did not expect that from her," he testified.

READ: Woman testifies in trial of SMU student accused of molesting her, saying she felt 'weird and awkward'

He said he kept following her as she walked downstairs and sought help from a security guard, apologising and asking her not to send a lawyer's letter to his home.

He stood outside the gantry as directed by the security guard and called his father, who said he would come down to the school with his mother.

The police arrived and spoke to Lee, and he later gave them a statement.

He said the woman never told him she had a boyfriend. In contrast, she had testified last year that she told him early on in their messages that she had a boyfriend.

Lee said, after the incident at SMU, the woman's then-boyfriend sent him a message that included the words "you had the balls to DM (direct message) my girlfriend". 

He also said he saw screenshots of the man's Instagram stories on the HardwareZone website, where he supposedly said he was "raging" and said he was "coming for" Lee.

He said he recalled the incident with so much detail as his father took him to see his lawyers soon after his release from the police station in January 2019 and since then he has been trying to remember as much as he can about what happened.

The trial continues on Tuesday, with the prosecution set to cross-examine Lee.

If convicted of molesting the woman, he can be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or given any combination of these penalties.

SMU said in September last year that Lee remains a student pending the outcome of his trial and the university's disciplinary proceedings.

Source: CNA/ll(ac)

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