Art teacher who molested student gets 2 strokes of the cane after prosecution appeals

SINGAPORE - An art teacher who was originally sentenced to 22 months' jail for molesting one of his male students, had two strokes of the cane added to his sentence, after the High Court allowed an appeal by the prosecution on Friday (April 26).

The teacher, 38, had squeezed the chest of the victim, a Secondary 2 student, and told the 13-year-old he looked like a Japanese pornographic comic character.

The boy testified that it happened while he was working on a sculpture in an art studio on the afternoon of Feb 17, 2016.

He was too shocked to respond and did not think about telling anyone at the time because he wanted to finish his art project as soon as possible.

The boy then followed the teacher to the Higher Art room, asking for help with his sculpture.

After working on the sculpture for several minutes, the teacher asked the boy a series of intrusive questions and made comments about his body hair.

He then touched the boy's buttocks and asked the shocked student if he was "too shy".

As the boy backed away, the teacher grabbed him and touched his groin.

There were some students around but he did not tell them what happened as he thought they would not believe him as the teacher was regarded as "caring and guiding".

Back home that night, the boy told his sister and parents what the teacher had done to him.

The teacher cannot be named owing to a gag order to protect the victim's identity.

After a trial that began in November 2017, a district judge convicted the teacher of three counts of molestation last year and sentenced him to 22 months' jail, with no caning.

On Friday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Yiwen urged the High Court to impose three strokes of the cane.

The DPP argued that by failing to impose caning, the district judge had erred by departing from the clear sentencing guidelines set out in a landmark decision.

"Given the egregious nature of the offences committed and, in particular, the severe abuse of trust by the (teacher) and the intrusiveness of the assault, caning must and should have been meted out," said the DPP.

Justice See Kee Oon agreed that caning was warranted, noting that although there was no direct skin contact, the boy's private parts had been intruded.