AT THE COURTS

Jail, caning for NPCC honorary officer who molested 4 teen boys

A man in his 30s molested four boys aged 15 to 17 while serving as an honorary officer of their secondary school's National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) unit.

The Singaporean was yesterday sentenced to 10 months' jail and one stroke of the cane for the offences committed between 2016 and 2017.

He had pleaded guilty to one count of molesting a 17-year-old and another of committing an obscene act with a 15-year-old student. Six similar charges involving the other two victims were considered in the sentencing.

The man's identity, as well as those of his victims and their school, cannot be revealed due to a gag order to protect the victims.

Honorary officers are adult leaders who assist teacher-officers with NPCC training programmes and they are recognised as Home Team volunteers.

NPCC officers of all ranks reported to the accused. This included cadets (lower secondary students), cadet leaders (upper secondary students) and cadet inspectors (those who have graduated from secondary school).

In June 2016, the accused gave his 15-year-old victim a ride to school in his car, as the student was involved in the planning and execution of the NPCC annual camp. Arriving too early and unable to enter the school, the accused drove to a carpark near his home, sat beside the victim in the rear seat and molested him.

The boy felt uncomfortable but was too afraid to resist as the accused was in a position of authority, the court heard.

In early 2017, the accused started working closely with his 17-year-old victim.

The teen, who had graduated from the secondary school and returned to serve in the unit, would go to the accused's home multiple times a week.

They discussed NPCC matters and watched movies together.

Over time, the accused grew more physically intimate with the victim, progressing from holding his hand to hugging him and kissing his cheek. Despite his discomfort, the teen reciprocated by kissing the accused's cheek as he felt pressured to do so.

This soon escalated to the accused touching the victim's private parts. He did so on five occasions for up to five minutes.

His offences came to light when the school principal lodged a police report in July 2017.

Court documents did not reveal how the principal found out about his crimes.

The accused's lawyer, Mr Riko Isaac from Tembusu Law, said in mitigation that his client did not set out to target the victims. "He formed friendships with them and overstepped boundaries due to his lapse of judgment."

He added that because one of the victims had already graduated, the abuse of trust is not as significant as that between a teacher and student.

District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam agreed with Mr Isaac on this point, but said the accused was still in a position of authority and he had capitalised on it.

For outrage of modesty, the accused could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or punished with any combination of the three. Sexual exploitation of a young person carries a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine and a five-year jail term.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2022, with the headline Jail, caning for NPCC honorary officer who molested 4 teen boys. Subscribe