Singapore — On Wednesday (Feb 5), a 43-year-old tuition teacher was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in jail as well as 12 strokes of the cane on two counts of statutory rape and one charge of an indecent act with a child.
Four other charges, including a third rape charge, were taken into consideration.
The identity of the teacher has not been disclosed in order to protect his victim.
The teacher began a relationship with the girl in 2017. He gave her additional maths lessons at a tuition centre where he worked. As he had given his number to all his students to call him if they were experiencing problems, he started a relationship with the girl over text, which became more personal as time went on.
The man texted that he liked her the best among all his students, and she saw him as her “soulmate”, reported channelnewsasia.com. She became his girlfriend in April 2018 and they started dating in public and acting like a couple, according to Deputy Public Prosecutors Asoka Markandu and Eugene Teh.
DPP Asoka sought a jail term of at least 11 years, as well as 12 strokes of the cane, claiming the teacher “showed no qualms in abusing the trust reposed in him by an exceptionally vulnerable victim and her parents”.
In 2018, the teacher began to tutor the girl in her home, including four-hour sessions on Sundays. Their relationship took an even more intimate turn during those sessions.
In May 2018, after the girl had just turned 12, he took her to a toilet at a mall in Woodlands, where they became sexually intimate.
Seven months later, on Dec 5, 2018, he raped her at another toilet in another mall. He later raped her two other times.
The girl’s parents noticed later that month while they were on vacation in Malaysia that she was constantly texting someone. They were shocked to discover the relationship between their daughter and the tutor upon reading the texts between them. Afterwards, her father made a police report.
DPP Asoka said: “The escalation of sexual activities between the accused and the victim strongly suggests that there was an element of sexual grooming involved. The incidents of sexual intimacy was not limited to a single isolated act and was also committed in the privacy of the victim’s home, during tuition class.
“Children, such as the victim, are vulnerable and often lack the emotional and intellectual maturity to make important decisions about their lives, including those pertaining to sexual conduct and behaviour.”
Moreover, even if the girl had consented to the intimacy between them, DPP Asoka said it was the teacher’s “responsibility not to take advantage of her naivety or to exploit her for his own sexual gratification”.
The teacher’s lawyer, Mr Raphael Louis, asked for a shorter sentence, saying it was his client’s first offence and that he had done a good job for 10 years as a “caring” tutor, pointing out his potential for rehabilitation.
Mr Louis said: “He went the extra mile to help his students academically and emotionally. He would also buy assessment books, was friendly and approachable. Unfortunately, because of his friendly demeanour … he didn’t draw proper boundaries with the victim.”
Justice Valerie Thean, however, pointed out the girl’s young age and the “serious breach of trust” the defendant had committed.
Earlier this week, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin debunked the notion that the rich and well-educated get lighter sentences for their crimes.
He said in Parliament: “Whether you’re rich or you’re educated, you do not get away easily. The law applies, regardless of our backgrounds or income levels.”
Mr Amrin was replying to a question from MP Lee Bee Wah, who said that there was a public perception that university students were given lighter penalties for their crimes, giving the example of a man who was jailed for 4 weeks for filming upskirt videos, while a student from the NUS received only a suspension.
Mr Amrin said that cases must be looked at individually. “There may be specific circumstances in a case that merits a different punishment or treatment.
“So I think it’s not wise to draw conclusions based on one or two cases, and it’s important that we send a very strong message that the rich do not get away easily or lightly for any type of crime, including sexual offences.” /TISG