SINGAPORE —After befriending a female student, an English and Literature teacher from their secondary school invited her for a car ride.
The unwitting 15-year-old girl accepted the invitation and the 33-year-old man brought her to an open carpark where he sexually assaulted her, asking her to imagine that he was her ex-boyfriend.
The teacher has since resigned, according to his lawyer Edmond Pereira.
On Tuesday (24 November), the man pleaded guilty to two counts of committing indecent acts on a young person and one count of digitally penetrating the same victim. All the offences took place inside his stationary car, which was parked at a block in Tampines Street 34 on 25 February 2017.
A charge involving the man pulling the victim’s face towards him and kissing her lips, this time at a beach area along Marina Coastal Drive on the same date, will be taken into consideration for his sentencing.
The names of the man and the girl cannot be revealed due to a court gag order.
The man also admitted to another two charges involving another 15-year-girl in 2015, when he showed her a video of a naked woman masturbating and placed his hand on her thigh, moving it towards her crotch. These charges, which will also be considered for sentencing, were committed in a car parked in a multi-storey carpark.
In a reply to queries from Yahoo News Singapore, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said it no longer employed the man as of September 2018.
“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,” the ministry said.
The court heard that the man began exchanging text messages with the victim from late 2016. He later invited her to join the school debate team, which he supervised, but she declined. The man also asked to meet her on several occasions.
He invited her out for a coffee drink at a Starbucks outlet on 17 February 2017 while the girl was in school. The girl agreed and the two later met at the school canteen. The man asked if she had time to talk, and the girl agreed.
They chatted in the canteen, during which the man asked her about her relationship with her ex-boyfriend. After half an hour, the girl left for home.
Five days later, the man sent an open invitation to a chat group consisting of himself, the girl and a classmate of hers, asking if either wanted to meet. While the girl replied that she was free, her classmate did not respond.
The two arranged to meet at the girl’s void deck at night and they chatted for an hour.
The man made sexual advances on the girl three days later, after asking her to go for a ride. When the girl agreed, the teacher told her not to tell anyone about it.
That evening, he drove to her block and complimented the girl’s looks when he met her. He told her that he wanted to bring her to an HDB block to play cards but also suggested that they remain in the car for the air-conditioning after he parked at an open carpark.
The girl agreed and began using her mobile phone. At this point, the man leaned toward her and started touching her thigh and neck while asking her if she trusted him. At a loss, the girl simply replied that she did.
The man then kissed her neck and unbuttoned her shirt. He reached her hands under her bra and molested her. He also sexually penetrated her. The girl felt uncomfortable and immediately grabbed his wrist.
When the man asked her if she liked what he was doing, the girl said no. The man then removed his hand and asked her to imagine that he was her ex-boyfriend.
The man continued to kiss her ear and neck and asked if she had ever seen a penis before. He asked if she wanted to see his before revealing his groin area and making her touch his penis.
Even after the girl refused to masturbate the man and said she felt uncomfortable, the man drove her to a multi-storey carpark in the vicinity and leaned in to kiss her again.
A while later, the man asked if the girl felt hungry, and offered to go to a McDonald’s outlet.
After a meal, the man brought her to the Marina Bay area, and brought her to a waterside area where they spent some time before driving her home. He told her again not to tell anyone about the incident.
Upon reaching home at around 10.30pm, the girl blocked the teacher on the apps that they had used to communicate.
On 27 February 2017, the girl shared with a few of her close friends about what happened to her while in school and school management staff eventually learned about the incident.
When the girl stopped coming to school after 27 February 2017, several school staff visited her home on 2 March 2017. She was brought to lodge a police report that afternoon.
Mitigating for his client, Pereira said that the man had been a popular teacher who met up with many students past and present. He met the girl after school hours in January 2017 and he began confiding in her his personal life.
They then formed a chat group together with another person and things proceeded from there.
The lawyer said that his client admitted his wrongdoing from the moment investigations began and was remorseful.
Deputy Public Prosecutor James Chew sought four years’ jail, citing how the man had committed the offence in his capacity as a teacher and had engineered the opportunity to exploit the girl.
“The key issue here is one of public interest (because) where teachers abuse the trust reposed in them by the public, by parents, by students and commit such offences, it calls into question the safety and security of our schools.”
Due to the incident, the girl avoided the man by refusing to go to school.
The man will return to court on Thursday for his sentence.
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