SINGAPORE — A former head of department in a primary school sexually exploited several male students after inviting them to his house for free tuition and bringing them to swim.
Before a police report could be lodged against him, the 56-year-old man absconded to Indonesia for the next 17 years. Despite being a fugitive, the man managed to enter Singapore on numerous occasions under a false identity.
The Singaporean man, who cannot be named due to a gag order, was sentenced to 10 and a half years’ jail on Friday (25 September), after he pleaded guilty to three molest charges, one charge of carnal intercourse against the course of nature and one charge of making a false statement on 31 occasions in 2015 to obtain a visit pass. Another 19 charges involving immigration and sexual offences were considered for sentencing.
When the man committed the offences in 2001 and 2002, he was between 36 and 38 years old. He was then a head of department in a primary school and in charge of two extracurricular activities. He was responsible for organising annual overnight camps.
He would sexually assault students during the camps when they were asleep or alone with him. He also invited students to his flat on Sunday mornings for free tuition and to swim at a swimming complex. At his flat, he would ask students to go to his bedroom and make them perform sexual acts on him.
At the swimming complex, the man would go into the same male toilet as the students to commit his indecent acts.
In 2002, he targetted one of the students and asked this boy, then 12, if he wanted to be a best student. He also told him not to be shy.
Around September 2002, he asked this boy for some help with work at his flat. When the boy arrived, the man took him into the bedroom and chatted with him. He asked the boy if he could do “it” and the boy nodded without understanding the comment.
The man then stripped himself and took a shower. He became aroused and asked the boy to join him in the shower, but the latter refused, claiming that he had already showered. The boy eventually relented at the man’s persistence. There, the man asked the boy to perform sexual acts on him.
A few days later, the boy confided in a friend as he felt afraid and confused. He did not inform his parents or teachers for fear of being scolded. He later informed the school principal about the incident and his parents were informed.
He targetted another boy, between 11 and 12, who went to his house for tuition with some other students. The group later proceeded to the swimming complex where they swam. After the swim, the man entered a cubicle and stripped naked with the door open. He instructed the boy to bring a towel and shampoo into the cubicle.
When the boy entered, the man locked the door, making the boy feel afraid. The man then instructed the boy to wash his back and buttocks and later placed the boy’s hand on his genitals. He instructed the boy to perform a sexual act.
The boy did not tell his own parents as he was afraid the man might do something to him.
During a camp in 2002, the man arranged for another boy, then 12, to sleep beside him in the school gym. When he saw that the other students were sleeping, the man felt aroused and pulled down his pants to expose his penis. He placed the boy’s hand on his penis. He then committed a sexual act despite the boy’s reluctance. The boy confided in his friends a month later.
The youngest boy that the man preyed on was 10. In early 2001, the man drove the boy to the swimming complex where they swam before showering in different cubicles. While still showering, the man knocked at the boy’s cubicle before pushing it open.
The boy was shocked to see the man entering his cubicle naked. The man then asked the boy to shower with him and to “search for his penis”. The boy refused to but the man said that “nobody said no to him”.
After the sexual act, the boy exited the cubicle but the man called him back. He was forced to repeat the act.
Later that day, the man drove the boy back to school and told him not to tell anyone what had happened.
On 12 November 2002, the victims and their friends discussed about the man in the school canteen, as they heard that he had touched a female student inappropriately.
“They briefly shared with each other about the sexual abuse committed by the accused against each of them, and they eventually decided to inform another teacher,” said the prosecution.
The school management was informed and internal investigations were conducted. On 14 November 2002, the man was informed about the investigations and told by the school principal to surrender his passport.
Before the man did so, he fled Singapore. He drove his car into Johor Bahru on 15 November 2002 and became uncontactable. A police gazette was issued against him.
The man took a flight to Kuala Lumpur that same day and landed in Indonesia, where he settled in a town called Cirebon. Assuming a fake identity, he got a new identity card and use it to obtain a passport.
On 26 January 2013, the man returned to Singapore and was granted a visit pass. From then on, the man travelled to Singapore under his fake identity and entered 31 times between 8 January and 28 December 2015.
He was finally caught last year when he went to report the loss of his NRIC card.
On 21 August 2019, he made the report at a police centre, intending to obtain a replacement NRIC card to withdraw his CPF money.
A screening was conducted by the police officer, and the man’s wanted status was revealed. He was placed under arrest.
The man was later assessed by the Institute of Mental Health and found to have paedophilic disorder. His risk of sexual reoffending was assessed to be high.
Citing this factor, Deputy Public Prosecutor Chua Ying-Hong asked for a jail term of at least 12 years and three months for the man. The man had significantly abused his position of trust and displayed a high level of premeditation in his offences, the DPP said.
The man’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme lawyer Sadhana Rai said that her client was married and has a child. The man told her that he had not reoffended in Indonesia and has spared the victims from the trauma of testifying in court by pleading guilty.
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