Former S'pore secondary school teacher in charge of CCA molested 13 boys over 2 years

He was the only teacher who stayed overnight at the chalet organised for CCA members.

Ruth Chai | October 28, 2022, 03:53 PM

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A 39-year-old former secondary school allied educator admitted to molesting 13 boys from 2015 to 2018.

The accused and the school he was at were not named in court documents.

The victims were all members of the co-curricular activity (CCA) the man was in charge of.

In many of the cases, he would inappropriately touch the boys' private parts and kiss them.

Multiple incidents of the wrongful deeds were carried out in a lab in the school, which was also used as a clubroom for the CCA.

In October 2018, a CCA member revealed to his mother that he had seen the teacher touching and kissing his CCA mates.

The mother then lodged a police report at Ang Mo Kio North Neighbourhood Police Center on Oct. 26 that year.

The perpetrator, who cannot be named due to gag orders imposed by the court, pleaded guilty on Thursday, Oct. 27 to six charges.

They included multiple charges of molestation, procuring an indecent act by a young person and using insulting behaviour causing alarm and distress.

Another 23 charges will be considered in sentencing.

Treated CCA lab as personal staff room

Although the accused had a cubicle in the teacher's office, he based himself at the teacher's table located in the lab, effectively treating it like his "personal staff room".

He was not the sole teacher-in-charge of the CCA, but the other teachers rarely entered the lab, and left the accused in charge of the daily operations of the CCA.

The man had been an allied educator since 2008. He also taught Literature and English in addition to being a CCA teacher-in-charge.

The CCA members understood that the lab was an out-of-bounds area, and did not go in unless instructed to by the accused.

However, some of the CCA members would go to the lab to do their schoolwork as it was air-conditioned. The blinds were always closed per the man's instructions.

The man would often remind the students that "whatever happens" in the lab, "stays in the... lab".

He would either call the victims to go to his teacher’s table and touch them inappropriately while talking to them one-to-one, or go over to where the victims were in the lab and touch them while they were working or changing.

His gestures were often interpreted as him acting in a brotherly, playful and affectionate manner.

Inappropriately touched minors

In one instance, he sat beside a then 14-year-old boy whilst having a conversation with him.

He then proceeded to touch the boy's thigh and genital area, asking him inappropriate questions. Shocked, the boy stood up and excused himself to go to the toilet.

The boy did not dare to confront the teacher as he was afraid of the repercussions, and never entered the lab alone from then on.

In another instance, he called another boy over to his desk and asked him to sit on his lap.

He turned the chair around such that both he and the boy were back-facing the rest of the students in the lab.

The man slipped his hands under the boy's shorts to touch his private parts, while engaging in inappropriate conversation. The boy felt uncomfortable but was too stunned to react.

He also allegedly pressured another student into kissing him on the lips.

After the incident, the student decided to call the helpline of the Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC) at AWARE.

He informed SACC that he was molested by his CCA coach since Secondary One.

However, when the case manager from SACC contacted him for follow-up, he did not respond to the calls and messages because he was afraid.

Between March 2017 and December 2017, a 14-year-old boy went to the lab to discuss CCA matters with the accused.

The accused said that the boy's leg was hairy and asked if it was similarly hairy elsewhere.

The boy did not reply.

The man then made a lewd comment and offered to show the boy his own hair.

He plucked out a hair and held it near the boy's face even after the boy rejected him.

The boy felt shocked, insulted and disgusted, the court heard.

Molested a student in a chalet

The CCA hosted overnight "retreats" at a chalet every year and the accused was the only teacher-in-charge or coach who stayed overnight at the chalet.

One student, who attended the chalet and stayed overnight, fell asleep on the couch while the rest of the students were playing card games.

He woke up in the middle of the night to the sensation of someone touching his genitals.

He realised that he was lying on a bed in the chalet's bedroom, and felt a person’s stomach pressed against his back and an arm across his torso.

However, he was too scared to react and thus pretended to be asleep.

The rubbing continued for 10 to 15 minutes before the perpetrator stopped and went to sleep.

The boy waited around 30 minutes until the man was asleep before he felt safe to leave the room. Upon leaving the room, he confirmed that the perpetrator was the accused.

Sentencing in November

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said in its statement that it takes a serious view of staff misconduct and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against those who fail to adhere to its standards of conduct and discipline.

On Oct. 27, the judge said he intended to have the offender examined at the Institute of Mental Health.

His case was adjourned and he will return to court in November.

Top photo via Unsplash