Ex-teacher cleared of indecent acts with teenage boys

A former primary school teacher was cleared yesterday of three charges, including two of committing an indecent act with a child.
A former primary school teacher was cleared yesterday of three charges, including two of committing an indecent act with a child. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

Real possibility that the two boys involved colluded to make false allegations: Judge

A former primary school teacher was cleared yesterday of three charges, including two of committing an indecent act with a child.

In acquitting him after an 11-day trial, District Judge John Ng said that there was a "real possibility" that the two boys involved, aged 13 and 14 then, had colluded to make false allegations against the 40-year-old.

The former head of department and uniformed group leader cannot be named.

Together with a third boy, who did not claim to be a victim, the two boys reported to the police in 2014 that the man had placed the younger boy's hand on the accused's private parts, massaged the same boy, and procured an indecent act with a child.

The former teacher's lawyers - Mr Adrian Wee and Ms Rachel Soh from Characterist - had argued during the trial that the boys made the allegations in a vindictive attempt to get back at the man.

The three boys believed he had forced the 13-year-old boy to resign from the uniformed group and had hoped to improve the boy's chances of being reinstated in the man's absence.

Judge Ng said the prosecution had not been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had committed the alleged acts against the younger boy.

The boy had claimed that the massages took place on Sundays across half a year, but the judge noted that he was unable to provide specific descriptions of the offending acts in relation to any specified occasion.

On the other hand, the judge said the accused's evidence was credible and raised doubts in the prosecution's case.

The accused denied that any indecent acts took place even though he admitted to massaging the boy.

"The defence was able to provide indirect but credible evidence which made it unsafe to accept the evidence of (the younger boy)," Judge Ng said.

He also noted that there was a significant lapse of time from the revelation of the alleged offences to the time of making the police report against the accused. The report was made in 2014.

Judge Ng said the defence was not only able to point out the inconsistencies which cast doubts on the veracity of the boys' accounts, but was also able to show that the boys had a clear motive to lie.

Such a motive had likely sprung from the perceived unfair criticism and harsh treatment of the alleged victim by the accused, which resulted in the boy leaving the uniformed group.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-teacher cleared of indecent acts with teenage boys'. Print Edition | Subscribe