Warning: This article contains descriptions of molest and suicide. Reader discretion is advised.
A 47-year-old man, who is a former history teacher at a top school in Singapore, has been sentenced to 15 months' jail for molesting a 15-year-old student in 2011.
The case was brought to the police's attention in 2018, when the victim revealed what had happened to her when she was 15.
The Straits Times reported that the man pleaded guilty to two charges under the Children and Young Persons Act in November 2020.
The offender and school cannot be named due to a gag order intended to protect the victim's identity.
The court heard that the offender joined the school in 2009 and became acquainted with the victim a year later, when he taught her and was the teacher-in-charge of a co-curricular activity of which she was a student leader.
They entered a relationship in 2011, during which the man molested her. At the time of the offences, he was 36 and she was 15.
Today reported that the assaults happened in early 2011 when the offender and victim were alone in a room which was supposed to be used for duties relating to the co-curricular activity.
While in the room, the offender grabbed the victim by the wrists, lifted them above her head and pressed her against the wall, said "I can do anything now", before letting go several seconds later. Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Asoka Markandu told the court that the victim felt confused and embarrassed by his actions but did not react.
In another incident, he groped her private parts under her underwear. The victim stepped away from him when he removed his hand, but did not say anything.
He ended their relationship after the June holidays in 2011, but remained in contact, reported The Straits Times.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jean Ting was quoted by Today as saying that the victim felt "broken" and that she should "disappear and not exist" after the relationship ended, which led to the development of suicidal ideations.
In 2014, the victim returned to the school as a relief history teacher, which was an arrangement that the offender was involved in.
In the same year, she was diagnosed with anorexia and major depressive disorder and attempted suicide thrice. She was referred to a psychiatrist after being warded in hospital for 10 days.
Two years later, she told her psychiatrist that she was distressed about her relationship with the offender; following advice from the psychiatrist, the woman stopped communicating with her former teacher.
However, this caused her to develop suicidal ideations again, and she was warded for a month in 2017 for electroconvulsive therapy, according to Today.
In 2018, she told a female teacher at the school about what had happened between her and the offender, and the matter was escalated to the school's vice-principal and principal.
The latter filed a police report on the victim's behalf, and the offender left the Ministry of Education after the report was made.
The victim took her own life last May at the age of 25, several months after the offender pleaded guilty.
Man found unsuitable for Mandatory Treatment Order
According to The Straits Times, District Judge Eddy Tham called for a report to assess the man's suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO) on January 18 to see if there was a contributory link between the offender's history of bipolar disorder and his unlawful acts.
The suitability report showed that there was no contributory link.
Offenders can be given an MTO undergo treatment for their mental conditions in lieu of jail time.
For each charge of committing an indecent act, the man could have been jailed for up to five years, fined up to S$10,000, or both.
If you or someone you know are in mental distress, here are some hotlines you can call to seek help, advice, or just a listening ear:
- SOS 24-hour Hotline: 1-767
- Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
- Institute of Mental Health: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
- Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (for primary school-aged children)
Correction on May 25, 20:05pm: The article has been updated for accuracy.
Follow and listen to our podcast here
Top image from Pixabay.