Teacher on trial for allegedly molesting male student in school's art room

SINGAPORE - An art teacher was alone with one of his students in their school's art room when he allegedly molested the boy, who was then 13 years old.

The man, 38, who has been interdicted from his teaching job, is accused of committing the offence on Feb 17 last year.

He cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the identity of the boy, who was in Secondary 1 at that time.

The boy's former form teacher took the stand on the first day of the trial on Monday (Nov 6) and she testified that she was at home at around 9.30pm that evening when the boy's mother called her mobile phone.

The form teacher, who also taught the boy English, told District Judge John Ng: "I remember her tone. She was angry and distressed. She said (the art teacher) had touched (the boy's) private parts. I was shocked... I tried to calm her down as she sounded flustered."

The boy's mother then put her son on the line.

According to the form teacher, the boy told her that he was in the art room with his classmates earlier that day and was then working on a project. He was left alone with the man when the other students left, the court heard.

Responding to questions from Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong, the form teacher said the boy told her that the art teacher then started to talk about what she referred to as "unconventional topics".

She testified that the boy said the man asked about his leg hair and masturbation before touching the teenager's private parts.

The form teacher told Judge Ng that before hanging up, she instructed the boy to write a statement about his ordeal.

The court heard that the boy and his parents came to the school the next morning . They met her, her level head and the school's vice-principal (VP).

The VP instructed her subordinates to take the boy to another room in the school so that he could pen down another statement without being disturbed.

The form teacher said she did as she was told and waited outside while he wrote it.

When the man's lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, asked the form teacher about her relationship with his client, she replied that they got along quite well and they have had meals together.

She added: "He got along well with the students. He was good at what he teaches. He is creative."

And as for the boy, she said that he was obedient with no disciplinary records.

She added: "He seemed quite obliging. If people bullied him, he would not retaliate. His ability to write... was better than how he could communicate orally."

When DPP Chong asked her if she had any reasons to believe that the boy's accusations were part of his imagination, the form teacher replied: "No. He had no reason to lie. He's a well-behaved student."

The trial resumes.