SINGAPORE - An accredited Islamic religious teacher, who conducted Quranic recitation classes at his flat, kissed an eight-year-old pupil on her lips.
The offender, who cannot be named due to a gag order, then told the child not to tell anybody.
The 66-year-old man was sentenced on Monday (March 16) to six weeks' jail after pleading guilty to committing an indecent act on the girl. A second similar charge involving the same victim was considered during sentencing.
At the time of the offences, he was an accredited religious teacher under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis). It is the national accreditation scheme for Islamic religious teachers in Singapore.
Responding to queries from The Straits Times, Muis said that the man had been suspended from the scheme since January last year.
Muis also said: "Any criminal act will automatically deregister an individual from the scheme, therefore the individual will no longer be allowed to teach Al-Quran or conduct classes on Islam in Singapore."
Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhamad Imaduddien said that the girl had been attending Quranic recitation classes at the man's flat in the north-eastern part of Singapore twice a week since 2017.
The classes were held in the evening and would last for more than 30 minutes. She attended them with her younger brother and the two children would arrive at the flat at around 8pm, accompanied by their Indonesian domestic helper.
Some time in 2018, the girl noticed that when she arrived early with her young brother, the man would kiss her on both cheeks after she greeted him with a customary salaam. in which one kisses another's hand as a sign respect. This is usually done by a younger person when meeting elders.
The man also kissed her brother on both cheeks.
But, in January last year, the man kissed her cheeks and lips after she greeted him with a salaam.
The DPP said: "After doing so, the accused told the victim not to tell anybody. The victim noticed that the accused did not do the same - kiss on the lips - to her younger brother."
Afraid that "something more may happen to her", the girl later told her mother about what had happened. Her father then lodged a police report on Jan 19 last year.
DPP Muhamad had urged District Judge Teo Guan Kee to sentence the man to at least two months' jail, stressing that the case involved an "egregious abuse" of trust and religious authority.
In its statement last year, Muis said it would like to remind the public to be ever vigilant and to report errant behaviour to the relevant authorities.
The assistant director in the office of Mufti (Asatizah Recognition), Ustaz Mahmoud Mathlub Sidek, had said: "Muis and the Asatizah Recognition Board take a serious stance on cases of this nature, and will not hesitate to take action to ensure that the safety and welfare of the public, in particular our children, are safeguarded.
"No individual should be allowed to abuse his or her position of authority or influence as a religious teacher," Ustaz Mahmoud said.
The man is now out on bail of $15,000 and will surrender himself at the State Courts on Wednesday to begin his jail term.
First time offenders convicted of performing an indecent act on a child can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $10,000. Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to seven years and fined up to $20,000.