Doc jailed for sex assault: Apex court to rule on case

Prosecutors argued in the Court of Appeal yesterday that general practitioner Wee Teong Boo should be convicted of raping a patient at his clinic, while the defence appealed for him to be completely cleared of all charges. The apex court will give its decision at a later date.

Wee, 69, was originally tried for molesting the woman, then 23, during a medical examination in 2015 and raping her during another visit one month later.

In February last year, the High Court cleared him of rape. This was based on Wee's admission that he had inserted his fingers into the patient in what he said was a pelvic examination.

He was sentenced to 10 years instead for sexual assault by penetration and the molestation charge.

At a hearing yesterday, the judges said several times that they struggled to understand the sequence of events given by Wee's accuser, even as they acknowledged that different people react differently.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Lit Cheng admitted that the case was "bizarre" but said the patient was a "simple-minded" young woman who had no previous sexual experience and trusted Wee as a doctor.

The patient said she saw Wee on Nov 25, 2015 for gastric discomfort and he stroked her genital area while examining her on the bed. Despite feeling "weird", she thought it might be part of the examination.

Later, another doctor found lumps on her pelvic joints and this reassured her there was a medical basis for Wee's actions. She returned to see Wee on Dec 30 over her frequent urination and a genital itch.

She said he stood between her legs and she felt something "poke" her while he was moving and holding both her legs with his hands. She said it was only when he pulled her into a semi-upright position that she realised he was raping her.

Back home, she told her mother that Wee had "violated" her.

After making a police report for rape, she said it later dawned on her that she had been sexually assaulted during the Nov 25 visit.

Yesterday, Wee's lawyer, Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, argued that the woman was not credible.

He noted that she said she rested her foot on a photocopier during the alleged rape, but photographs showed there were boxes between the bed and the copier. Seven clinic assistants said the boxes have been there for years.

At the end of the session, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said that if the apex court upholds the rape acquittal, Wee cannot be convicted of sexual assault either.

This was because the "central fact" of the sexual assault conviction was digital penetration, which was the opposite of the prosecution's case - that Wee had penetrated the woman with his penis.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2020, with the headline 'Doc jailed for sex assault: Apex court to rule on case'. Subscribe