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Top public servant in statutory board acquitted of 5 molest charges against colleagues, convicted of one

Top public servant in statutory board acquitted of 5 molest charges against colleagues, convicted of one

File photo of the State Courts in Singapore (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: A top public servant in a statutory board has been acquitted of five molestation charges against a female colleague and convicted of the sixth charge of outraging the modesty of a second woman.

The 67-year-old man and his employer cannot be named due to gag orders protecting the identities of the two women.

He was convicted on Wednesday (Dec 9) of hugging a 55-year-old colleague at his workplace in June 2016. He did this so tightly that her chest was pressed against his body, court documents said.

However, the man was acquitted of molesting a 43-year-old colleague on five occasions at his workplace.

He allegedly hugged the younger woman tightly, squeezed her buttocks and pressed his groin against her shoulder.

Both women were the accused's subordinates. He was the younger woman's immediate supervisor. 

In delivering his verdict, District Judge John Ng said he was satisfied that both women were truthful when they said that there was unwelcome physical contact with the accused, but he said he was unable to find him guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the charges against the younger woman.

As there were no independent witnesses to the alleged incidents, the court had to be satisfied that both women were telling the truth about each incident and that the acts of molestation happened in the manner as recounted by them.

"The outcome of the case depends on the assessment of the credibility of (the women) and the accused, and the veracity of their evidence," said the judge, adding that veracity refers to the accuracy of their recollections and the consistency of their evidence.

It is "unsafe" to convict the man on the five charges involving the younger woman, said the judge, pointing to several reasons such as the inconsistent police statements made by the woman and her inability to provide adequate explanations for these inconsistencies.

"Having said that it is only fair to state that there were also material inconsistencies in the statement of the accused to the police," said Judge Ng, adding that the deficiencies in his evidence could not make up for the doubt in the evidence of the younger woman.

"In my view (she) had not fabricated the unpleasant interactions with the accused. She did feel sexually harassed," he said. "She did not welcome his hugs for which she was troubled but chose to overlook and forget."

The judge found it plausible that even though the younger woman could not clearly remember the incidents, she was prepared to insist that they happened the way she recounted them rather than concede that they might not have happened.

The man, who was defended by Drew & Napier lawyers, will return to court for mitigation and sentencing in January. 

In response to CNA's queries, his lawyers said that the man was "interdicted from duty" on Apr 16, 2018, adding that he is no longer employed with the statutory board as his contract ended on Jan 1, 2019.

For outraging a person's modesty, he can be jailed for up to two years, fined or both. He cannot be caned as he is over 50.

He faces three other charges that have been stood down or set aside, related to overseas trips involving the older woman.

Source: CNA/ll


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