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NUS responds to students' complaints that it filed police report on Jeremy Fernando against their wishes

NUS responds to students' complaints that it filed police report on Jeremy Fernando against their wishes

Jeremy Fernando was dismissed from NUS on Oct 7, weeks after the first complaint against him was received by NUS on Aug 27.

SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) has responded to two students who said the school filed a police report against their wishes about their complaints of sexual misconduct.

The Straits Times reported last Sunday (Nov 1) that the students – who lodged complaints with the university about Tembusu College fellow Jeremy Fernando – said they were informed by NUS only after the police report was made.

Dr Fernando was sacked by NUS after it found that he had “an intimate association” with an undergraduate.

The university said on Wednesday that it did not inform one of the students when it would file a police report, but that it had a legal duty to do so. NUS did not manage to reach the second student, it said.

READ: NUS has 'fallen short' in handling Jeremy Fernando's dismissal, says Tembusu College rector Tommy Koh 

At a press conference at Tembusu College on Oct 23, Associate Professor Leong Ching, NUS dean of students and associate provost (special projects) said the university had reached out to inform both students before the police report was made, and had succeeded in informing one of them.

"But we could not reach the other, and we informed both students immediately after (the report)," she added. 

On Wednesday, the university said: "This may have given the impression that we had informed one student that NUS was making a police report just before we made it. 

"We would like to clarify that what we had informed the student of was that NUS had a legal duty to file a police report, and would exercise this duty in accordance with NUS policy, if she chose not to do so. NUS also did not inform the student of when it would file the report."

The university said it had also advised the two students of the option to file their own police reports, given the "serious allegations" they had made about Dr Fernando.

NUS “successfully reached out” to both students after the police report was filed to update them, the spokesperson added. 

READ: Institutions must be 'open and timely' when addressing sexual misconduct allegations: MOE

NUS filed the police report against Dr Fernando on Oct 21 “to fulfil its legal obligations”, following allegations of sexual misconduct made by two students. 

“In filing this report, NUS takes into consideration our obligations under the law, the need for transparency, and the need to protect the privacy and interests of all parties, including reasonable grounds for delay. As partial information about the matter was already public, a police report was imminent.

"NUS also owes a duty of care to its students at large to ensure campus safety, and weighed this in our decision to file a report without prior agreement of either student. If an allegation has been made, the police would be best placed to assess if an offence was committed.” 

Source: CNA/hw(cy)

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