Employer jailed for sexually abusing maid

An employer checking her domestic worker's belongings chanced upon a note written by the maid, saying she had been sexually abused by the boss' husband in the very house she worked in.

In the note addressed to the couple's eldest son, the maid, then 23, said she was embarrassed to describe the "very shameful" conduct of Saffie Supa'at, who had "bothered" her.

However, the maid did not hand the note to the son as she felt uncomfortable and did not want to "spoil the family", according to a court hearing.

Her employer, instead of checking if the contents of the note were true, threw away the book in which it was written.

She then asked the maid to pack her belongings the next day, which was Jan 31 last year, after she had a discussion with her husband.

The maid, however, left the Hougang flat only the following day, on Feb 1.

After leaving the house, in the vicinity of Hougang Primary School, she met another Indonesian maid she had come to know, and told her that she had been chased out.

That maid took her to see a friend, who accompanied her to make a police report.

The victim, who started work in the household on Dec 14, 2015, initially enjoyed working for the couple. But this was short-lived.

Soon, Saffie started "bothering her and did "a lot of funny things" to her in less than two weeks.

Convicting Saffie last month of six charges of molestation and insulting the modesty of a woman after a four-day trial, District Judge John Ng rejected the defence's evidence that the maid was lying to set Saffie up.

The court heard that during the first incident in January last year, the maid was drying plates in the kitchen when Saffie suddenly brushed her buttocks and smiled, before saying: "Why?"

Saffie admitted to the act but said it was accidental as the space in the kitchen was small.

However, the court was told, over the next few days, he brushed the maid's buttocks two more times, touched her chest and uttered words to insult her modesty.

Saffie was sentenced to jail for 14 months and two weeks yesterday.

Two charges of exposing himself were also considered during sentencing.

Pressing for at least 16 months' jail, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kavita Uthrapathy said Saffie wasted no time in embarking on a campaign of sexual harassment against the victim very soon after she started work.

She argued that the sexual assaults on the victim were "sustained, persistent and premeditated".

She said: "If not for (Saffie's wife) finding the victim's note, it is very likely that the offending would have continued and perhaps even escalated."

She added that Saffie committed the brazen offences when his wife was at work, and lacked remorse.

Saffie, represented by Mr Wilbur Lim, could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined for each count of molestation; and jailed for up to 18 months and/or fined for each charge of insulting modesty.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2017, with the headline 'Employer jailed for sexually abusing maid'. Print Edition | Subscribe