Charges withdrawn for S'pore doctor accused of molestation after 'victim' admitted to lying

Dr Yeo Sow Nam had been accused of molesting a 32-year-old woman at Mount Elizabeth Hospital on Oct 9, 2017.
Dr Yeo Sow Nam had been accused of molesting a 32-year-old woman at Mount Elizabeth Hospital on Oct 9, 2017.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - An anaesthesiologist accused of four counts of molestation had all of his charges withdrawn on Monday (Aug 16), after the purported victim admitted to lying in court during earlier proceedings.

Upon the prosecution's application, District Judge Ng Peng Hong gave Dr Yeo Sow Nam a discharge amounting to an acquittal.

This means that the 52-year-old Singaporean cannot be charged again with the same offences.

Dr Yeo, who is a director at The Pain Specialist, had been accused of molesting a 32-year-old woman on the 12th storey of Mount Elizabeth Hospital on the evening of Oct 9, 2017.

She cannot be named due to a gag order but the court heard on Monday that she was not a patient, employee or a fellow doctor.

During the trial which started in March, the woman admitted in court that she had told several lies.

Dr Yeo is represented by lawyers Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen and Johannes Hadi.

In their submissions, the lawyers said: "This is clearly not a case where there is a gap between the commission of a crime and the prosecution's ability to prove it in court.

"The complainant is not an 'alleged victim'... but a self-confessed perjurer who has admitted to knowingly giving false evidence on oath to this honourable court."

For instance, she said during the trial in March that she remembered him resting his hand on her hip.

She later decided to change her evidence when Mr Thuraisingam grilled her, this time stating that she could not recall Dr Yeo committing the act.

She then admitted that she had lied after the lawyer asked her: "When you told the court that you remember him resting his hand on your hip, you were telling a lie. Agree or disagree?"

In their submissions, Dr Yeo's legal team also said that the woman admitted that she changed her evidence to make her overall story more believable.

She also agreed with Mr Thuraisingam's statement when he said she had "no qualms about lying about things sometimes (when) it's advantageous" for her to do so.

The defence lawyers also said in their submissions that the woman lied in court when she claimed that Dr Yeo had kissed her forehead and cupped her breasts.

They added: "We submit that her acts of perjury in relation to her allegations against Dr Yeo clearly and decisively vindicate his factual innocence, and disqualify her from continued protection under the gag order.

"The public interest presently at stake, therefore, concerns open justice and public confidence in the administration of justice. The press is bound to report on the prosecution's mid-trial decision to withdraw the charges against Dr Yeo and the subsequent (discharge amounting to an acquittal) granted to him."

In a public statement on Monday, Dr Yeo said that he is "vindicated by the grace of God".

He added: "I am glad that truth has prevailed... However, I am also disappointed that with her lies, the complainant has jeopardised the good, necessary and difficult work of ensuring access to justice for real victims of sex crimes, many of whom already hesitate to accuse their attackers publicly.

"I hope that (the) verdict does not discourage real victims of sex crimes from coming forward, or set back the moral agenda in their favour."

It was not mentioned in court on Monday if action will be taken against the woman, but the gag order on her identity remains for now.