S'pore Court of Appeal overturns convictions of doctor accused of raping patient in Bedok clinic

Wee Teong Boo had originally been found guilty of sexual assault and molestation.

Andrew Koay | June 11, 2020, 11:10 AM

On Jun. 10, the Singapore's Court of Appeal acquitted a doctor who was found guilty in 2019 of sexually assaulting a patient in his Bedok clinic.

Wee Teong Boo, 69, had originally been sentenced to 10 years' jail in February 2019, after being accused of rape, according to CNA.

At the time, Wee had been acquitted of the rape charge but was found guilty of the lesser charges of sexual assault by digital penetration and outrage of modesty.

"Soft like a noodle"

The original trial saw Wee accused by a 23-year-old patient of raping her when she visited his clinic during a late-consultation on Dec. 30, 2015.

Now 27, the woman also accused Wee of molesting her on Nov. 25, 2015.

The case made headlines after Wee's wife took the stand to testify that the doctor suffered from erectile dysfunction at the time of the alleged offence, saying that during sex with her, he was "soft like a noodle".

Both the defence and the prosecution appealed the February 2019 verdict, reported CNA.

The prosecution sought a conviction of the rape charge, an affirmation of the outrage of modesty charge, and to increase Wee's sentence if the sexual assault was upheld.

On the other hand, the defence asked for Wee's convictions to be overturned and for the acquittal of the rape charge to be affirmed.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and Judges of Appeal Steven Chong and Belinda Ang dismissed the prosecution's appeal and overturned Wee's sexual assault and outrage of modesty convictions.

Affirming the acquittal of the rape charge

In their written judgement, the judges affirmed the original acquittal of the rape charge writing that they found it "implausible" that Wee could have penetrated the woman as she described.

They also wrote that medical evidence showed Wee suffered from erectile dysfunction at the time he was alleged to have offended.

Furthermore, the judges agreed with the original ruling that it was doubtful Wee would have attempted the rape, "given that at the material time, the clinic assistants and some other patients were waiting in the clinic".

They also noted that the examination room which Wee was alleged to have raped the woman had a sliding door which could not be locked and that the woman could have screamed for help.

The judges said that to find that Wee had indeed committed the offence, "he must have believed that he could get away with it because (the woman) would not even know that she was being raped and would remain completely silent throughout the ordeal".

However, they found that this was "an improbable scenario to begin with", and stated that the prosecution did not put this scenario to Wee nor did they explore this line of inquiry during the original trial.

Overturning the outrage of modesty conviction

Regarding the outrage of modesty charge that led to a conviction, the judges wrote that they were "troubled by two particular inconsistencies in (the woman's) account".

The patient testified that she initially thought Wee's alleged actions during the Nov. 25 incident where part of a medical examination.

She alleged that Wee had stroked her private parts for a very long time during this consultation.

However, the judges found it "incredible" that the woman would have thought that this was part of a medical examination.

"Second, we are troubled by the significant delay of 36 days between the alleged event and it being reported," wrote the judges, adding that they did not find the woman's explanations for the delay "persuasive or credible".

The patient had explained the delay by saying that her doubts about Wee's Nov. 25 examination were eased after a subsequent examination by a different doctor at a polyclinic found a lump that apparently corroborated the results of Wee's examination.

However, the polyclinics record showed that the woman had not visited the doctor to check on the lump.

As a result, the Court of Appeal overturned Wee's outrage of modesty conviction.

Overturning the sexual assault by digital penetration conviction

The three judges also overturned Wee's sexual assault by digital penetration conviction.

They explained: "In short, the Digital Penetration Offence rested on a version of the facts that was fundamentally incompatible with the case mounted by the Prosecution and with the evidence of the complainant."

They wrote that they found Wee's conviction to be "highly prejudicial" for a number of reasons.

"First and most fundamentally, according to (the woman) and the case ran by the prosecution, digital penetration did not take place."

Commenting on Wee's acquittal, defence lawyers Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen, Johannes Hadi, and Syazana Yahya were quoted by CNA as saying "we are happy that the hard work put into the case has paid off with an innocent man being acquitted by the court".

The full 72-page judgement can be read here.

Top image by Matthias Ang