Prosecution seeks jail for expelled Yale-NUS student who filmed shower videos of housemates
SINGAPORE: Prosecutors on Friday (Jan 31) sought a jail term of more than seven months for a student who was expelled from Yale-NUS College after taking shower videos of his housemates and upskirt photos on campus.
The 26-year-old man cannot be identified due to a gag order imposed by the court, as revealing his name might identify the victims.
He had taken the clips with his mobile phone in the span of more than a year, in classrooms and in a common bathroom he shared with his five female housemates.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Lim pushed for at least 30 weeks' jail, citing a strong need for deterrence, the difficulty in detecting such offences, and the long period of offending and multiple victims.
"There is a strong public interest in protecting persons who in general go about their routine activities and in particular go about their student activities in institutions where they are entitled to feel safe," said Mr Lim.
He added that students who have to stay in hostels are entitled to their privacy and safety in what is their second home.
"It goes without saying that our students in classrooms are entitled to have the ease of mind to focus on studying as opposed to worrying if their fellow classmates will be capturing videos of their more intimate parts," said Mr Lim.
The accused was expelled from the college at the end of October last year for "breaching the college's code of conduct and posing a safety risk to our community".
He said he took the clips of four of the housemates showering, as it helped him destress from academic pressure, rewatching the clips whenever he felt overwhelmed with schoolwork.
The prosecutor said the video clips allowed for "repeated intrusion" into the victim's modesty, when he rewatched and replayed the clips "for his own sexual purposes".
He added that the clips could have been disseminated online.
The accused was nabbed in March 2019 when one of the victims saw his phone camera pointing at her in the shower.
However, he denied being the culprit, instead leading the victims on "a wild goose chase" and taking steps to conceal himself, said the prosecution.
He suggested that someone else from a party in the building could have done it, and removed his coloured phone cover to avoid recognition.
He admitted earlier this month to eight counts of insulting a woman's modesty, with another 16 charges taken into consideration.
FIANCEE STANDS BY HIM: DEFENCE
Defence lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law asked instead for 20 weeks' jail, saying their client had an "extremely strong propensity for reform".
Mr Tan said there was "no sophistication" on his client's part, as he used only his mobile phone throughout all incidents.
He added that the accused's fiancee stands by him and "keenly awaits his return", and that they are planning to get married.
Mr Tan said the accused also took up an Institute of Mental Health doctor's recommendation to remove the camera from his phone as it would be beneficial to his rehabilitation.
He said the young man had "several anchors for his rehabilitation" including his family, his fiancee and his church.
He cited also the case of former NUS student Monica Baey, who was filmed while showering at her hostel.
While her case did not make it to court, Mr Tan said his client "ticked many of the boxes" that the police and prosecution had stated they consider when contemplating whether to pursue a case.
These include the age of the accused, the extent of remorse, the likelihood of reoffending or rehabilitation, and whether a possible jail sentence would ruin the offender's future.
District Judge Adam Nakhoda adjourned sentencing to next Friday.
For each count of insulting a woman's modesty, the accused faces a maximum year's jail, a fine, or both.