Sex-for-grades trial: Judge has harsh words for Tey

He cites ex-law prof's 'callousness' in giving longer jail term than sought

FORMER National University of Singapore (NUS) law professor Tey Tsun Hang had always displayed a feisty, at times dramatic, presence during his 28-day trial, characterised by sharp exchanges between him and prosecutors.

But yesterday, the 42-year-old showed no emotion throughout the one hour that a district judge took to chastise him, and when he was led away in handcuffs.

Even his supporters - about 10 former students, former colleagues and friends - who had been religiously showing up in court were stoic when Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye passed the sentence. They had cried and hugged Tey after he was found guilty last Tuesday of corruption.

In giving his grounds of decision yesterday, the judge said Tey was in a position of trust and had a duty to nurture and impart the right moral values to his students. Yet, he "exploited the vulnerability" of former student Darinne Ko, and "chose to be corrupt".

"This is, perhaps, the first case of corruption at the NUS Faculty of Law which has reached the courts," he said, adding that the university's reputation was also tarnished with Tey's conviction last Tuesday. Tey was sacked from NUS the same day.

The judge refuted the defence's citing of a case involving former Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) senior executive Peter Khoo to prove there was no "actual loss or detriment" to NUS. Mr Khoo was fined $100,000 and given an $83,500 penalty - the total sum of bribes he pocketed - last year after he pleaded guilty to two counts of corruption and one of criminal breach of trust.

The judge said in Mr Khoo's case, SPH was not part of the public administration, and he had voluntarily disclosed his own misdeeds. But in Tey's case, he did not admit to the offences when charged in court, said the judge.

Tey had also "played the lead role" in the two sexual encounters he had with Ms Ko, he said, and his "callousness" was evident as he had asked Ms Ko to "get rid of the baby", while claiming he had no money to pay for the abortion. As he caused her to lose her virginity and took a life through an abortion, Tey deserved a harsher sentence of three months each for those charges than the prosecution's suggestion of six to eight weeks per charge, he said.

"The scourge of corruption, which causes untold misery and human suffering, must not be allowed to take root in our tertiary institutions," said the judge.

Tey was released yesterday after bail of $150,000 was posted by his former colleague, associate professor Chan Wing Cheong, and Tey's sister-in-law. Yesterday, as he was leaving, Tey told reporters he was "touched by the support and concern" of his former colleagues, a few of whom were present yesterday. "None of them have deserted me," he said.