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Singapore

Teacher admits sexually exploiting 14-year-old student after plying her with gifts

SINGAPORE: A teacher cultivated a relationship with one of his Secondary 3 students, plying her with gifts and taking her to his flat where he sexually abused her.

The 33-year-old man, who cannot be named due to gag orders, pleaded guilty on Thursday (Feb 6) to two counts of sexual penetration of a minor and a third charge of sexual exploitation of a child.

Four other similar charges will be taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court heard that the man had taught the girl since she was in Secondary 1 in 2017.

The girl developed feelings for her teacher, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Ho Jiayun, and they began texting each other about school work. They soon started talking about personal issues and grew close.

The teacher began giving the girl gifts in 2018. On one occasion, he left her an iPhone and a S$50 note in his pigeon hole at school, as he knew that her father had confiscated her phone.

Sometime in September 2018, the teacher stopped replying the girl's messages as he felt guilty towards his pregnant wife.

However, he resumed texting the girl in early 2019, after she ran away from home.

This time, the messages took on a sexual tone, with obscene photographs exchanged at the teacher's initiative, the court heard.

The girl told her teacher that she liked him, and he said he reciprocated those feelings.

"However, the accused did not actually have romantic feelings for the victim," said the prosecutor.

TEACHER OFFERED TO PICK UP STUDENT

On Valentine's Day last year, the teacher sent a text message to the victim's mother, asking for permission for the victim to attend school for an exam the next day.

He offered to pick the girl up from her mother's workplace, take her to school and home afterwards. The mother agreed without informing the girl's father.

The next day, the teacher picked the victim up in the morning and drove her to school, arranging to meet her alone at a nearby block after classes.

After school, the teacher drove the victim to his flat, where he kissed her and took her to his bedroom. They then engaged in sexual acts before the teacher sent the girl back to school.

The man also conspired with the victim to lie to her mother that she had to attend remedial classes during the March school holidays so they could meet up.

When the victim told her mother about the classes, her mother sent the teacher a message to confirm the matter.

He confirmed it and offered to take the girl to school and back to her mother's workplace. The victim's mother agreed and was grateful for his help, the court heard.

On the day of "remedial lessons", the teacher drove the victim to his flat, where he sexually abused her in his bedroom.

He drove the girl back to her mother's workplace about four hours after picking her up.

VICTIM'S FATHER DISCOVERS EXPLICIT MESSAGES

The man's actions were uncovered in April last year, when the victim's father realised that the teenager was using a phone he had not bought her.

He questioned her about the phone and found out that her teacher had given it to her. He also learnt that the teacher had driven the girl to and from school on two occasions, and that the pair had exchanged messages that suggested a romantic relationship.

He made a report to the school principal, and other teachers interviewed the victim and her friends about the sexually explicit messages.

The principal made a police report on Apr 6, 2019, on a case of sexual grooming between a male teacher and a female student.

The prosecutor asked for a sentence of at least four years and two months' jail, saying it was imperative to protect young people from sexual exploitation.

She said that the accused did not fulfil "this high calling" as an educator, mentor and role model to students, and instead exploited the student for his own sexual gratification.

"Knowing that she took a fancy to him, he cultivated a relationship with her, plying her with gifts and attention over the course of more than a year," said Ms Ho. 

"This finally progressed to sexually intimate conduct. He devised opportunities to be alone with her in his flat, even practising deception on her parents."

The judge adjourned sentencing to Feb 27. For each charge of sexual penetration of a minor, the teacher could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined, or both.

Responding to queries from CNA, a Ministry of Education spokesman said the man stopped working for the ministry in April 2019.

"Teachers should conduct themselves in a manner which upholds the integrity of the profession and the trust placed in them," the spokesman said.

"MOE takes a serious view of staff misconduct and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against those who fail to adhere to our standards of conduct and discipline, including dismissal from service."

Source: CNA/ll

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