Whenever you read about sexual assault or harassment cases, it really does seem like we need to go back to school to learn about the concept of consent in Sexuality Education.
Because it really does seem like some grown adults need others to pull out a dictionary and spell out what “consent” actually entails for them.
A 24-year-old Singapore Management University (SMU) student, Lee Yan Ru, was interrogated by the prosecutor on Tuesday (6 Apr) regarding whether the 22-year-old woman had given him consent to perform a sexual act on her.
If you need a recap on how the incident unfolded, basically, the two had an overnight study session at SMU in which he made several sexual advances towards her through the night.
Later, the both of them laid down to take a nap.
When he woke up, Lee pulled down his shorts and rubbed his genitals across the woman’s chest, ejaculating in under 10 seconds. The woman was asleep when the incident occurred.
On Monday (5 Apr), he took to the stand for the first time in his molestation trial.
SMU Student Grilled By Prosecutor
CNA reports that under the cross-examination conducted by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Andre Chong, Lee repeatedly asserted that the woman had consented to his acts throughout the whole night.
DPP Chong charged that Lee did not bother to obtain her consent, that he would not take no for an answer and that he did not stop when the woman had asked him to.
However, Lee expressed that throughout the entire time, he “thought it was mutual [and] there was consent between both parties.”
He repeatedly attributed this to the “mood and environment” between them during the early hours of 8 January 2019.
The woman had turned up unexpectedly for yesterday’s (6 Apr) hearing and was allowed to stay after a brief stand-down where parties discussed whether her presence might be an issue.
District Judge Sharmila Sripathy allowed her to stay after DPP Chong said he had no objections, and she stayed in the hearing for the entire time Lee was being cross-examined.
She is not an SMU student but attends another university. Her identity cannot be revealed due to a gag order.
Asking For Consent
DPP Chong began his cross-examination by questioning Lee on his understanding of consent, which ensued a long debate between the two.
“If I want to do something to you, isn’t the burden on me to ask you for consent?” asked DPP Chong to which Lee replied that it was his duty to say no.
DPP Chong further pressed and asked whether it was still the other party’s duty to say no, “[e]ven though [he’s] the one who wants to do something to [him]?”
“Based on your question—I need to say no if you want to do something to me and I do not want you to do something to me,” maintained Lee.
When DPP Chong questioned whether the only way to be certain if someone consents to an act was to ask them, Lee answered that it would depend on the place he was asked and the environment he is in.
During the cross-examination, Lee agreed that he had not asked the woman for permission before he performed any of the physical acts against her—including poking her at the cafe where they first met, kissing her, hugging her or touching her breast.
Missing Details In Lee’s Police Statement
According to The Straits Times, the cross-examination also revealed new details that were not included in the police statement.
These included the woman saying she trusted Lee while she changed in the room, that she had placed his feet on her thighs, and that he had asked her what would happen if he tickled her.
As such, DPP Chong argued that Lee could have fabricated several statements that he made during Monday (5 Apr)’s hearing as they were not put to the alleged victim when she was being cross-examined or they were missing from his original police statement.
However, Lee claimed that these statements were in fact, true.
“Her Stop Didn’t Mean Stop”
When it came to the incident in which Lee might be charged for—one count of using criminal force on the woman by rubbing his privates on her chest in a study room at SMU— he said that he did think about whether she “was fine with it” and thought that she really was.
DPP Chong argued that she had just woken up and would have been disoriented and unable to consent.
Lee pointed out that her tone was “playful”, and thus “her definition of stop didn’t mean stop” to him.
When asked to mimic her tone, Lee claimed that he could not show it to DPP Chong in the current environment, saying, “There is no way I can replicate that tone because… I am not her and I am not in that environment now.”
DPP Chong then went on to ask what would’ve made Lee halt his advances, to which he replied that her shouting, hitting him or pushing him away (as her hands were free) would have stopped him.
However, DPP Chong countered that in reality, “there is nothing [she] could have said to get [him] to stop.”
Past Experiences With Other Girls
Lee raised that he had also other experiences with other girls who were “OK with it”.
When DPP Chong asked if he had knelt on top of them while they were sleeping and ejaculated on them, Lee had denied doing this.
Regarding the night study incident, Lee said, “It’s the whole environment, that, that’s the whole process, I keep repeating, these are the facts where we are constantly getting closer and closer and there’s consent all the way.”
“What you are saying this entire time about what you felt, what you believed, about the mood—this is a fantasy that you’ve constructed, which had no basis in reality,” DPP Chong concluded.
District Judge Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz is expected to give her verdict on 27 July 2021.
If convicted of outraging the woman’s modesty, Lee can be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or given any combination of these penalties.
Feature Image: kuzmaphoto / Shutterstock.com