Students have long been taught to respect their teachers who work hard educating and nurturing them.
But when that respect and trust are taken advantage of, it can often be traumatic and devastating.
Sentenced to 15 Months’ Jail
A former teacher from one of Singapore’s top schools who entered into a relationship with an underage student and molested her in 2011 was sentenced to 15 months’ jail on Tuesday (24 May).
The offender, a Singaporean man, now 47, pleaded guilty in November 2020 to two charges of committing an indecent act on a young person under the Children and Young Persons Act. Two other charges under the same Act were considered during sentencing.
The man’s jail term will begin on May 30.
Details about the offender and the school cannot be disclosed due to a gag order to protect the victim’s identity.
Fell into Depression and Committed Suicide
The case was brought to light in 2018 when the victim broke her silence about the offence that occurred when she was 15 years old.
Unfortunately, the offence led to her developing depression and she committed suicide in May last year at the age of 25.
District Judge Eddy Tham said, “This case shows the long term consequences of the offences led to a tragic loss of a precious life.”
He added that it illustrates that a sexual act on a young person can have a “devastating effect” and hence showed why there are laws to protect young people from being exploited.
The former teacher was held in high regard, which worsened the degree of the breach of trust against the student, the judge added.
Offender Had History of Bipolar Disorder
He had earlier called for a report to assess the man’s suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO) to find out whether the man’s history of bipolar disorder contributed to his unlawful acts.
Offenders given an MTO will undergo treatment for their mental conditions in lieu of jail time.
The MTO suitability report showed that the man’s condition did not have a contributory link to his offences.
Investigations showed that he made his advances on the victim only when they were alone in a room at the school premises.
The Deputy Public Prosecutor, who sought at least 12 months’ jail for the accused, said it demonstrated that he was careful about and could control when he committed these indecent acts.
Hence, he was clearly conscious that his actions were inappropriate.
Timeline of Events
The offender joined the school in 2009 and got to know the victim when he taught her the following year. He was also the teacher in charge of a co-curricular activity where she was student leader.
They grew close and began a relationship in early 2011, during which he made multiple advances and also molested her by surprise.
In August 2018, the victim told a female teacher at the school about her relationship with the man.
The teacher spoke to the vice-principal, who alerted the principal. The principal made a police report on 2 October that year.
In November 2020, the Ministry of Education told The Straits Times that the man was no longer an employee since 2018.
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