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Singapore

Tuition teacher gets 10 years' jail, caning for attempted sexual assault of boy in swimming pool shower

SINGAPORE: Two months after he started tutoring a 13-year-old boy, Teo Boon Kang took the teen to a swimming pool, where he molested him and attempted to sexually assault him in a shower cubicle.

Teo, 49, claimed trial and was found guilty on Tuesday (Aug 21) of two charges of attempted aggravated sexual assault of a minor, one charge of outraging the modesty of a minor and one charge of committing an indecent act with a child.

The victim, who is now 15, testified that he first got to know Teo in March 2016, after his father chanced on a poster that advertised Teo's tuition services and hired him. He cannot be named due to a gag order.

Teo began giving the boy lessons that month for about three to four times a week, with each lesson lasting at least three hours.

The lessons were held either at Teo's home, or at a McDonald's outlet. The boy recalled that during the first tuition session at McDonald's, Teo slapped his buttocks each time he moved past Teo to get in or out of his seat.

Although he was "shocked" and disliked this, the boy did not say anything to his teacher as he was scared.

After the session, the boy told his parents about what happened. 

They confronted Teo and told the boy to give Teo "one more chance", as Teo said he was merely showing that he was "friendly", court documents said.

TEACHER TOOK BOY SWIMMING

The attempted assault took place about two months after the victim started taking tuition lessons with Teo.

On May 12, 2016, the boy went to the void deck of Teo's home, as he was supposed to have tuition alone with him.

However, Teo came down with his swimming equipment and told the boy that he had two options: To go swimming before going home, or to have tuition first before going swimming.

The boy was confused as Teo had not told him before this that they would be going swimming. However, he chose the first option as "he felt lazy", court documents said.

He asked Teo why they were going swimming, and Teo said that the boy's father wanted him to take the boy swimming.

Teo took the boy to the swimming pool at the Home Team NS Clubhouse in Bukit Batok West.

In the male changing room there, Teo took out a pair of swimming tights for the boy to put on. The boy complained that they were too tight and that he felt uncomfortable.

Teo told him that he could help him to adjust his tights, but the boy declined and said he would do it himself. Despite the boy refusing, Teo put his hand into the boy's tights and molested him.

The boy tried to rationalise Teo's actions in his mind, choosing to give him the benefit of the doubt, court documents said.

He followed Teo into the pool, where Teo placed his hands on the boy's hips, touching his buttocks. Again, the victim rationalised that the teacher wanted to guide him.

After the swim, the pair returned to the male changing room, where there was no one else. Teo said they would shower together, as he had brought only one towel.

The boy told Teo to shower first, but Teo forcibly pulled him into the cubicle by his shoulder.

Inside the cubicle, Teo molested the boy and attempted to sexually assault him twice.

After that, the victim followed Teo to KFC for a meal, during which Teo told the victim with a smile: "I rub you very clean. Do you feel very clean right now?"

The boy later explained that he did not run away as he was afraid that Teo would "start suspecting me and chase me". He also feared that Teo would rape or kidnap him. After the meal, Teo took him home on his motorcycle.

VICTIM LOCKED HIMSELF IN HIS ROOM ONCE HE GOT HOME

Once the boy reached home, he told his mother that Teo had molested him, before locking himself in his room. His mother tried to find out more, but he threw a fuss and revealed only that Teo had "rubbed my whole body".

She told the court that on the day of the incident, her son ran into the house and locked the main door, telling her that he was very frightened.

After he told her briefly what had happened, she called her husband, who was overseas, before calling Teo.

Teo initially denied doing anything, but later conceded that he had showered the victim, the boy's mother said.

It was only after his father spoke to him that the boy revealed the attempted sexual assault. The boy's father decided that they should lodge a report, and the boy did not reveal the incident to anyone else, as he was "embarrassed that they will make fun of me for being a coward". 

The boy's mother filed a police report in June 2016.

After the incident, the boy suffered flashbacks of Teo abusing him and said he became "homophobic" and "threw short tantrums".

The boy's mother testified that her son felt inferior after the incident, declining to mix with his friends and insisting that "I'm not such good material".

She said the boy isolated himself after the incident and blamed his father, saying that "father got me into trouble". The father himself felt bad about introducing Teo to his son and said he could not communicate with his son, as he was "always very angry" with him. He also felt disappointed with himself, that he had put his son through this ordeal.

PROSECUTOR SAYS ACCUSED GAVE 'EMBELLISHED' ACCOUNT

Deputy Public Prosecutor Eunice Lau called the accused's account "highly embellished, inconsistent and downright incredible".

While the prosecution had called for eight witnesses throughout the trial, the defence had only one witness, Teo, whose main thrust was of bare denial.

The prosecution asked for at least 10 years' jail and 27 strokes of the cane, saying that there was a clear abuse of authority, with intrinsic elements of depravity and premeditation.

She pointed out that Teo had a previous conviction in 2009, when he was given 16 months' jail and three strokes of the cane for outrage of modesty. 

Asking for a sentence of eight years and eight months' jail and 24 strokes of the cane, defence lawyer Richard Lim said his client excelled in coaching and that the victim's results "improved tremendously" after his lessons.

Teo stopped tutoring after the incident and worked as a part-time waiter, Mr Lim added. He said that there was "no evidence of any physical injury caused to the victim in the medical report", and said Teo had cooperated with police investigations.

District Judge Terence Tay sentenced Teo to 10 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane, the maximum number of strokes that can be given in the District Court, saying that he had carried out "a slew of abhorrent acts", and that the sentence must reflect the "heinousness of his acts".

He said Teo was about four times older than the victim and he had committed an egregious breach of trust and defied the victim's protests, being relentless in his acts of sexual violation.

Source: CNA/ll(hm)

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