Singapore doctor acquitted of molesting woman

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read
A gavel
A gavel (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — An anaesthesiologist accused of molesting a woman at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Orchard was acquitted of all charges on Monday (16 August) at the prosecution's application and midway through his trial.

Speaking to the media after the court hearing, Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhamad Imaduddien said that it had reviewed the evidence before the court, and had received further representations by the defence, before coming to the decision to withdraw the charges against Dr Yeo Sow Nam. The prosecution then applied for a discharge amounting to an acquittal for the doctor. 

Yeo had claimed trial in March to four charges of molesting the woman, now 33, on 9 October 2017. He is said to have wrapped his hand around the shoulder of the victim, pulling her towards him and kissing both sides of her head.

He is also said to have hugged and gripped her breasts with his hands over her arms from behind her, and squeezed her waist over her clothes. 

Yeo's lawyers, Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen and Johannes Hadi, pointed out to the court that the woman had agreed during her trial that she had given false evidence.

"We submit that this is clearly not a case where there is a gap between the commission of a crime and the prosecution’s ability to prove it in court. The complainant is not an 'alleged victim'... but a self-confessed perjurer who has admitted to knowingly giving false evidence on oath to this honourable court," said the lawyers in submissions. 

Referring to parts of the trial transcript, Thuraisingam pointed out that the woman also confessed before the court that she had "no qualms" about lying when it was in her advantage or self-interest to do so. 

She had also confessed to lying so frequently that she could not remember what was true, and what was not. 

According to Thuraisingam, the woman had also laughed in court, as if mocking Yeo and his wife. She behaved flippantly and laughed inappropriately on multiple occasions while giving her testimony, he said.

Defence reserves the right to apply for lift in gag order 

While the defence lawyers initially sought to lift the gag order on the woman's identity on Monday, they withdrew their application due to legal reasons.

Thuraisingam, however, said the defence reserved the right to apply to lift the gag order should the woman be charged in court for giving false evidence.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Ong submitted for the gag order to be maintained for the time being.

The woman's relationship with Yeo cannot be revealed as it is covered under the gag order. However, she was not a patient, an employee of Yeo's clinic or of any medical institution, or a fellow medical practitioner.

The prosecution later told the media that it has not come to a position on whether the woman will be charged for giving false evidence.

In a statement to the media, Yeo said he was the "victim of false and scurrilous allegations by a female who interacted with me in the course of my practice as a medical specialist".

"I have maintained my innocence from the start," he said. "The past four years have been an ordeal for me, my family and friends, my staff, and my patients... I have had to endure the distress and ignominy of being publicly accused of sex crimes I did not commit."

He also thanked his patients and colleagues, and the medical community for their trust.

"I am glad that truth has prevailed today. However, I am also disappointed that with her lies... I hope that today’s verdict does not discourage real victims of sex crimes from coming forward, or set back the moral agenda in their favour," he added. 

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