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Children among victims of NUS voyeur who received 24-month conditional warning for multiple incidents between 2015 and 2016

In addition to the warning, the offender was also suspended for two semesters and was required to attend counseling and a psychological assessment as well as pay a S$1,000 fine

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Singapore—A document concerning offences heard by the disciplinary board at the National University of Singapore (NUS) showed that children were among the victims of one particular voyeur who filmed children in a toilet several times between 2015 and 2016. The police gave the voyeur a 24-month conditional warning instead of prosecuting him, the documents show.

Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported that documents showed that in one case between 2015 and 2016, one undergraduate “entered a children’s toilet and filmed children in the adjacent cubicle on multiple occasions.”

Police gave the student who filmed the children a 24-month conditional warning. The University also suspended him for two semesters and he was required to attend counseling and a psychological assessment. Moreover, he was made to pay a fine of S$1,000 and  given an official reprimand.

CNA reports that the documents detailing the cases that the disciplinary board handled had been taken from the university’s student portal. They were then uploaded on Facebook last weekend by NUS students. These documents also show that there have been at least 26 cases of sexual misconduct brought before the NUS’ Board of Discipline in three academic years.

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Legal experts that CNA spoke to told them that such cases which involve children or minors are considered to be more grave than other sexual misconduct cases.

Covenant Chambers lawyer Che Wei Chin commented on the likelihood that the AGC would issue charges instead of a conditional warning. “Some factors that AGC are likely to consider when deciding on issuing charges are the degree of culpability, the harm caused to the children, and whether there are public policy considerations.”

If the AGC believes that the incident was isolated and that there was a possibility that the perpetrator would repeat his actions, it could ask for a conditional warning to be issued from the police.

But in cases of repeated incidents, each time a child was filmed in the bathroom would be treated as a separate offense, and the perpetrator would then be facing several charges.

If this were the case, Mr Che said, a conditional warning could be unjustifiably lenient.”

The CNA report also quotes Intelleigen Legal’s Cheryl Ng as saying there could be more to the case, although she admitted that the conditional warning did “seem somewhat surprising.”

She added that it was possible that there was little evidence in the case. “The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) usually takes a very firm stance when children are victims in such situations. It is also more aggravated that children were the prime target. However, one factor that we know the AGC considers in whether to prosecute or not is the strength of the evidence.

If there is no evidence, then it can be difficult to successfully prosecute the alleged accused. As such, the AGC or police will choose to issue a warning instead.”

According to another lawyer, Gloria-James Civetta, the undergraduate who had filmed the children may possibly face charges under the Films Act or the Children and Young Persons Act.

The report also quotes AWARE’s Anisha Joseph, who stressed the need to protect children, who are more vulnerable than adults as they are unable to legally give consent. “There may be a belief that filming a child in a bathroom because it’s not physical violence, is not abuse or is a lesser form of abuse. However, without even going into what the perpetrator planned to do with the footage, filming somebody without their knowledge or permission is a clear violation of privacy and respect.

We expect institutions to keep their communities safe, more than we expect individuals to be able to protect themselves or their children from harm.” 

A recent sexual misconduct case where NUS student Monica Baey took to social media to express her belief that the man who had been caught filming her in the shower should have faced stiffer penalties and the resultant furor over the incident has caused the university to re-examine its policies when it comes to such incidents./TISG

Read related: Monica Baey, the girl who did the right thing and moved a university

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