Basketball coach found guilty of committing sexual acts on student

SINGAPORE - A basketball coach committed sexual acts on his then 13-year-old student and the teenager told his mother about his ordeal only two years later when he feared contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

Following a five-day trial, District Judge Mathew Joseph on Monday (Dec 18) found the man guilty of committing two sexual offences in 2013 - sodomising the minor and performing oral sex on him.

The 57-year-old man cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the identity of the victim, who is now a 17-year-old polytechnic student.

In her submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong said that the man was the boy's reserve basketball coach when he was in secondary school.

The teenager would go to the man's condominium in Bishan for basketball training. The coach would pick him up from school before heading there, the court heard.

Besides basketball training, they also took part in other social activities together such as fishing. The coach also gave the boy a pair of basketball shoes.

During the trial, the boy testified in court that he was in the coach's home some time in 2013 when the man carried him to a bed and sodomised him.

The boy said that on another occasion, the coach took him to a bed, placed a pillow on his head and performed oral sex on him.

DPP Wong said: "(The boy) recalled that this happened on a different day... although he could not remember which happened first, and no one else was at the house at the time of both sexual acts."

The boy stopped going to the man's home later that year. The court heard that he did not tell anyone about his ordeal as he "was scared about other people knowing of the incident".

The boy finally told his mother in 2015 as he was afraid of contracting HIV.

DPP Wong told the court: "(The mother) testified that the victim had asked her to (take) him for a physical check-up but did not tell her why directly until about 1½ hours later when he started to cry and told her what happened... This was the only time that (the mother) recalled the victim crying to her and he looked worried and anxious."

The boy made a police report on Feb 26, 2015, before visiting a doctor for a blood test. The court heard that no medical abnormalities were found.

The man is represented by lawyers R.S. Bajwa and Kertar Singh who submitted that the boy did not see his coach performing oral sex on him. The defence also said that there was no evidence that their client had sodomised the teenager.

Judge Joseph said that “great lengths” were taken to observe the boy’s demeanour while the latter gave evidence, noting that the boy is a reticent person who was “just being a teenager in giving his evidence, perhaps in not so eloquent fashion”.

“(The accused) struck me as not being forthright, and even as being evasive at times.”

In his testimony, the man claimed that he had no contact with the boy after August 2013.

The man is now out on bail of $30,000 and will be back in court on Jan 10.

For each count of sexually penetrating a minor, he can be jailed for up to 20 years and fined. He cannot be caned as he is above 50 years old.