SMU student, 25, gets 10 months jail & caning for molesting woman in overnight study session

The accused testified that he had assumed the victim's "stop didn't actually mean to stop".

Lean Jinghui | October 26, 2021, 10:29 AM

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A Singapore Management University (SMU) undergraduate convicted of molesting a female student on campus in 2019 has been sentenced to 10 months' jail and three strokes of the cane on Oct. 25, according to The Straits Times.

Lee Yan Ru, 25, had earlier been convicted of one charge of molestation in court on Aug. 31, 2021.

According to court documents seen by Mothership, the victim, who cannot be named due to a gag order to protect her identity, was 21 years old at the time.

She was a student at a different university.

What happened

Here's a recap of what happened:

  • On Jan. 8, 2019, around 1am, Lee and the victim met outside the School of Economics and Social Science Building of SMU for an overnight session. According to past media reports, Lee had first contacted the victim on Instagram and invited her to study.
  • They subsequently went into a classroom.
  • Lee made a series of advances on the victim, including allegedly putting his foot on her thigh several times with the victim moving his foot away, and groping her body -- the victim claimed that she had to pry his fingers off.
  • According to court documents, sometime before 6am, Lee then fell asleep on a chair. When he awoke shortly after, he saw that the victim was lying asleep on the floor, with her face partly covered with a jacket.
  • Lee is accused of kneeling over the victim, while she was asleep, and rubbing his genitals over her chest. She had then woken up because "she felt a weight on her abdomen and felt a movement". The victim told him to stop and "get off [her]", but he did not.
  • Lee only ceased upon ejaculating on the victim. According to court documents, Lee wiped the victim's neck, face and hair with tissue paper after the incident, and discarded them in a plastic bag.
  • The victim then left the classroom at approximately 6:32am, followed by Lee. According to documents, she spoke to the building's security officer, and called police at around 6:37 am.
  • The Health Sciences Authority's (HSA) DNA Profiling Laboratory subsequently found that the discarded tissue paper contained Lee's body fluids. Swabs taken from the victim's neck and face also gave similar results.
  • In his defence, Lee had earlier testified that he had assumed the acts were "consensual", and the victim's "stop didn't actually mean to stop". He claimed that the victim was “fine with his advances” or that she was getting “more comfortable” with him.


According to ST, in sentencing Lee on Oct. 25, District Judge Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz said the degree of sexual exploitation for the case was high, and that Lee's act on the victim had been "more than fleeting".

She also noted Lee's "wilful persistence" in continuing his acts, even after the victim rejected them, according to CNA.

According to court documents, there was "no reasonable doubt" that Lee had intended to outrage the victim's modesty, as:

  • When Lee began to masturbate above the victim, she was asleep, and not in a position to consent
  • When she woke up, she had asked Lee to stop, but he had failed to heed her rejection. The prosecution said that Lee had told her “a while more” after she asked him to stop, and pointed out that if Lee had really understood “stop” to mean “carry on”, there was no reason for him to have told the victim “a while more”, since he already had license to continue.
  • However, he had told her "a while more" precisely because he understood she did not consent, and was informing her he intended to continue regardless.

In convicting Lee previously, Sripathy-Shanaz said she had found the victim to be truthful in court, as compared to Lee, whose testimony had been inconsistent, even "contrived" at times, reported CNA.

She also did not find Lee to be remorseful of his actions.

Despite the defence's call for probation, Sripathy-Shanaz agreed with the prosecution's submission for 10 months and three strokes of the cane.

On the defence counsel's concerns over the impact of the case on Lee's future, she added that such collateral damage is to be expected: "A person who breaches criminal law must expect to face the consequences that follow under the criminal law."

For molestation, Lee could have been jailed up to two years, fined, caned, or penalised with any combination of such punishments.

Lee intends to appeal against his conviction and sentence, and was offered S$20,000 bail.

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