Ex-lawyer took photos of woman's underwear, chest

He gets four weeks in jail after reversing bid to contest charges for acts against then colleague

A former lawyer with top legal firm Drew & Napier changed his mind on contesting charges against him of insulting his then colleague's modesty.

He pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of insulting her modesty by taking photographs of her chest and underwear in 2017, and was sentenced to four weeks in jail by District Judge Samuel Chua.

Two other charges - one related to another incident where he took photos of her underwear and one of outraging her modesty - were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Both the man - who is no longer practising as a lawyer here - and his victim cannot be identified owing to a gag order to protect her.

The man committed his offences in April and October 2017 at the firm's office, which is at Ocean Financial Centre in Collyer Quay.

Some time in April that year, at about 8pm, he visited the woman at her cubicle. She was working late.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelly Ho told the court that the man decided to take compromising photos of the woman to "ease his stress".

He came up to her from behind, leaned over on the pretext of reading her computer screen and rested himself on the back rest of her chair.

Noticing that her bra was exposed through the neckline of her dress, he positioned his mobile phone downwards over her right shoulder and took several photos of her chest and bra.

He returned to his room in the office, viewed the photos and was sexually aroused.

"The accused then decided to take more compromising photographs of the victim for his viewing pleasure and to relieve his stress," DPP Ho said.

 

He went back to her cubicle and managed to take photos of her panties after talking to her.

On Oct 11 that year, at about 2.30pm, the woman was having lunch at her desk when he entered her room in the office and sat on the floor beside her.

When she swivelled her chair to face him, he could see in between her legs and became sexually aroused. He pointed his mobile phone in the direction of her thighs.

After she turned back to face her desk, he asked her twice to show him her lunch. Both times, she turned her chair around to face him.

DPP Ho said: "During the above sequence of events, the accused intruded upon the victim's privacy by taking several photographs of her exposed panties using his mobile phone."

When he stood up and spoke to her later, he pressed his thigh against her upper arm.

The former lawyer went on trial to contest the charges he faced, which started last November, but later changed his mind.

In urging the court to impose a jail term of at least six weeks, DPP Ho said: "The workplace setting provides ample opportunities for sexual predators like the offender to get close to their targets on the pretext of having to discuss or showing concern to a colleague."

Defence lawyer Tan Hee Joek said his client's actions were impulsive acts that arose from his then undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He also told the court that his client had deleted the photos almost immediately after taking them.

For each charge of insulting the woman's modesty, the man could have been jailed for up to a year and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2020, with the headline 'Ex-lawyer took photos of woman's underwear, chest'. Print Edition | Subscribe