The professor, Dr Jeremy Fernando, was dismissed from the university on Oct 7, which the NUS announced via a statement on Oct 18.
“Given the seriousness of the allegations,” NUS decided to go to the police after the two victims came forward, and advised the students to do likewise, and even accompanied them to the police station. However, NUS said that the victims chose not to file police reports against the former professor.
Student groups from the university have asked for transparency and accountability on the matter, given that a statement from NUS was only made two weeks after Dr Fernando was dismissed.
According to the straitstimes.com, the police have confirmed that a report has been filed against the former don and that they are investigating the matter.
NUS issued a statement on Wednesday (Oct 21) “to provide clarifications” on the issue, and gave a timeline of the events that transpired from the time the university became aware of the complaints against Dr Fernando and the actions it has taken since then.
Addressing the issue of belatedly letting the students know about the allegations against the former Don, NUS said, “We recognise that we could have shared information about the dismissal with Tembusu staff and students in a more timely manner and we endeavour to do better.”
NUS said that it has had to balance the “interests of privacy and confidentiality” of the two students who reported Dr Fernando’s sexual misconduct, adding that “The College places the utmost priority on the safety and well-being of its students. When the incident was made known to the College, it immediately took action to protect the student community and worked with the VCU to facilitate a fair and prompt investigation.”
One victim told the Straits Times that Dr Fernando had kissed and groped her, as well as performed oral sex on her while she was drunk. The other victim said that he had tried to touch and kiss her, and later told her that if she reported what he had done, he would get fired.
According to the timeline provided by NUS, the university received the first complaint against the former don on Aug 27 and Dr Fernando was suspended four days later. Aside from assisting in the investigation, he was barred from going to NUS. By Sept 5, the university had finished its investigation on the student’s complaint.
However, the second complaint against the former professor was made on Sept 7. A week later, NUS ordered Dr Fernando not to speak to the student who made the complaint. This second investigation was completed by Sept 21.
Dr Fernando was told of the allegations the women had made, and was given seven working days to respond, which he did by Sept 30.
The former don was dismissed on Oct 7, which the university told the two students.
On Oct 18, all staff and students were informed of the matter. —/TISG