'She was completely fine with all my advances', says student on trial for molesting woman in SMU
SINGAPORE: A 24-year-old man on trial for molesting a woman during an overnight study session at the Singapore Management University (SMU) testified on Monday (Apr 5) that he thought she was "completely fine" with all his advances.
Lee Yan Ru, who remains a fourth-year student in SMU's school of business, described how he was "very happy" as the woman, now 22, was getting "more and more comfortable" with him during the night.
He said he wanted to get closer to the woman and be "more intimate with her", adding that he thought she was also attracted to him.
He repeatedly said she "was fine with it" when asked how she reacted to his advances, which included touches, kisses and hugs. The woman's identity is protected by gag order.
READ: SMU student grilled on the stand about consent as woman he allegedly molested sits in to listen
Lee is contesting one 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.
Answering questions by defence lawyer Josephine Chee of Rajah & Tann, with his family in the courtroom, Lee said he was in a dance club, a dragon boat team and part of a student coaching service team.
He currently works in a start-up providing digital marketing solutions and helps out in volunteer work, he said.
At the outset, he said he did not commit the alleged act intending to outrage the modesty of the woman, who is not an SMU student.
He said he came across her profile in early January 2019 in the Explorer page on Instagram, which recommends accounts to users. He began chatting with her on Instagram and shifted to Telegram, where he said they replied to each other immediately if they could.
READ: Woman testifies in trial of SMU student accused of molesting her, saying she felt 'weird and awkward'
THEIR FIRST MEETING AT A CAFE
According to Lee, their first meeting was at a cafe near SMU.
After asking if she was afraid of tickles and she said she was not, Lee began "poking her tummy".
"I was trying to be playful with her and see if she was okay with this interaction with me," he said, adding that the woman was "okay with it".
"I also asked her along the lines of whether she had abs. Then she said it was hidden, so I decided to poke her tummy a few times to see whether that statement was true," said Lee.
He said she was "fine with it" and it was "very friendly between us", with the woman smiling along the way and not showing any signs of rejecting his actions.
"I felt it was quite pleasant that even though we met for the first time we can have such playful interactions between us," said Lee.
After their meeting, he continued to chat with the woman on Telegram and asked if she wanted to meet up to study that week.
READ: SMU molestation trial: Defence claims woman is lying and giving 'completely illogical' account of events
They agreed to meet later that night and Lee suggested studying at SMU as it was open 24/7.
"She asked if she can sleep at SMU and I said yes and I will bring my inflatable air sofa," said Lee.
He arrived first at SMU close to midnight on Jan 8, 2019, and took the lift up to a group study room. She arrived at around 1am.
Defence lawyer Ms Chee said the woman testified earlier in the trial that she was shocked to see a group study room as she had assumed they were going to a library.
"Do you recall her expressing any shock?" asked Ms Chee.
"No, she did not, she did not share anything about the place," said Lee.
HE PLACED HIS FEET ON HER THIGHS
As they studied, he placed both his feet on her thighs as he felt they were "getting more comfortable with each other so I wanted to be playful a bit".
Asked what he wanted to achieve with this action, Lee said: "Firstly, I wanted to get closer to her and I also wanted to know if she's fine with these playful interactions with me."
He said he believed she was "completely fine with it" as she placed his feet back on her thighs when they slipped off. She also told him he had long legs, said Lee.
The woman had testified in court that when Lee placed his feet on her thighs, she grabbed his foot and moved it away three to five times.
READ: 'To me, her stop didn't actually mean a stop', says man on trial for molesting woman during SMU study session
"That wasn't the case," said Lee. "My feet were on her thighs and when they slid off ... she placed them back on her thighs and soon after I then pulled down my feet when I didn't want to carry on the interaction with her."
After this, the woman said she felt warm and wanted to change into a singlet. According to Lee, he wanted to take her to the toilet to change, but she said she would do so in a small walkway in the L-shaped room.
"I was very happy that she was comfortable changing in the same place as where I was at, and I believe she's happy that she's spending time with me," said Lee.
While the woman changed, Lee asked her "what if I peek". "She responded by saying 'I trust you'," said Lee.
Later, the woman took out her laptop and lay on the floor to watch a movie. After completing his work at about 2am, Lee lay down next to her "very close" with their shoulders touching.
Lee said he suggested moving under the table as he felt the light was "glaring", and the woman was "okay with it".
"I FELT SHE WAS GETTING MORE AND MORE COMFORTABLE WITH ME"
Ms Chee asked Lee how he felt the night was going at the time.
"From my perspective, I felt that she was getting more and more comfortable with me, she was happy spending time with me, like she had completed her assignment or maybe part of her assignment and she decided to stay in that room with me and watch the movie with me so I felt that she was glad to spend time with me," he said.
"I was very happy because I myself wanted to get closer to her, to be more comfortable with her and more intimate with her."
After this, he placed his arm on her back and moved his hand towards her shoulder. According to Lee, when he asked her what would happen if he tickled her, she replied that she would hit or punch him, but he said she was saying it in a joking and playful manner.
He began tickling her underarm, and she would react by flicking his forehead gently each time he did so, Lee said.
When the movie ended, Lee moved his hand down the woman's spine and tickled her waist before moving his hand under her singlet to touch her breast.
"I could recall her giggling for a moment when I touched her right breast," he said.
Lee said he later touched her chest with both hands. This went on for a few seconds and he said she was "fine with it" before she "gently removed my hands from her singlet".
"I thought she was fine with it and all then when she pulled out my hands I decided to take things step by step and not carry on with it and I felt that she was actually okay with it but I decided to respect that and I stopped doing so," said Lee.
He said the woman began trying to move out from under the table, but he held her waist and pulled her "gently" towards him.
When she held onto one of the table legs, Lee got out from under the table and so did the woman. He hugged her and said he felt her loosen up, adding that he "could feel her hands around my waist".
They went downstairs for the woman to have a smoke break, and at this point, Lee said he believed that she was "feeling comfortable" towards him as well.
"We were progressing well throughout the night and to me, she was completely fine with all my advances," he said.
"I was glad that I was getting closer towards her and I feel it's the same for her as well, like I was attracted to her, and she was also attracted to me, and we are both willing to spend the rest of the night together."
He held her hand in the lift, and she "was fine with it", he said.
"I WANTED TO GET MORE INTIMATE WITH HER": LEE
After the smoke break, they returned to the room where Lee sat on the woman's lap and tried to hug and kiss her.
"I wanted to get more intimate with her, and for us to get more intimate with each other," he said. "My hands were at her back and I felt her bra hook so I tried to unhook her bra. And in (my) attempt of doing so, she stood up again."
Ms Chee said the woman testified in court that she had been wearing a sports bra and there were no hooks.
"I could clearly remember she was wearing a normal bra underneath her singlet because I could clearly feel the hooks at the back of her bra," said Lee.
He pointed to a photo that showed her bra straps.
"If you see the black bra strap, you can see the fastener. This shows she was wearing a normal bra because this wouldn't be there in a normal sports bra," he said.
In their interactions, Lee said he managed to kiss the woman on her cheek. She responded by saying "ew" and wiping her cheek, he said.
"After that, I pulled down my shorts and exposed my private part," said Lee.
Asked why he did that, he said: "To me, and I believe to her as well, we were getting more and more intimate, so I took out my private part just wanting to be more intimate with her."
"How did she react when you exposed your private part and it came into contact with her thigh?" said Ms Chee.
"Uh ... she did not say anything, but we remained very close to each other, my arms were still around her, the mood was still very ... intimate between us," said Lee.
He stood like that for a few minutes before pulling up his pants.
READ: SMU may impose sanctions on Lee Yan Ru if he is convicted, has enhanced campus security after alleged molestation
The morning's hearing ended at this juncture and will continue in the afternoon with Lee on the stand.
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.