SINGAPORE - Lawyer Samuel Seow Theng Beng prodded the forehead of one of his subordinates twice with his finger and caused her pain, in an incident that took place at his law firm in 2018.
At the time, he was upset with her over work she had not completed.
Minutes later and still angry, he assaulted a second woman - a female lawyer working at the firm - after she failed to inform him of the whereabouts of the company's associate director.
A district court heard that he slapped Ms Brenda Kong Shin Ying, who is also his niece, on both her cheeks and the top of her head.
Seow pleaded guilty in court on Monday (July 27) to one count each of assaulting Ms Kong, 26, and using criminal force on Ms Rachel Kang Pei Shan, 21.
A harassment charge and a second charge of using criminal force will be considered during sentencing.
The court heard that the 47-year-old Singaporean owned a few companies, including Samuel Seow Law Corporation and talent agency Beam Artistes.
A check on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority's website on Monday revealed that he is still a director of Beam Artistes.
Samuel Seow Law Corporation, however, is now known as SSLC. The firm provides management consultancy services and Seow is its shareholder.
An online search also revealed that he is still a lawyer and is currently a consultant at another law firm.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan said that Ms Kang worked as an artiste and events executive for Beam Artistes.
She was at Samuel Seow Law Corporation's office in South Bridge Road on April 17, 2018, and was about to leave the premises for a company event when Seow reprimanded her at 5.47pm.
The DPP said: "The accused was upset with Rachel as she had (left) uncompleted work and was leaving the office without properly accounting (for) her work to him. In his anger, the accused forcefully poked Rachel's forehead twice with his right index finger.
"Using his right hand, the accused also pushed a file that Rachel was holding on to, causing her to stagger back."
Three minutes later, Seow asked aloud for the whereabouts of the firm's associate director. The court heard that Ms Kong heard her uncle but did not respond.
Seow later spotted her and repeated his question. She replied that the associate director had a meeting from 4pm to 5pm that day but did not know where he went after that.
Seow then walked towards his niece and repeatedly asked her why she did not reply to his earlier queries.
DPP Kumaresan said: "The accused came close to Brenda's face and Brenda raised her arm across her chest to protect herself, fearing that the accused may get violent. In doing so, Brenda accidentally touched the accused's chest."
Incensed, Seow charged towards Ms Kong and exclaimed: "You beat me... you dare to beat me."
He then grabbed her left arm and pushed her back. One of their colleagues spotted the altercation and held on to Seow to restrain him.
Seow, however, managed to break free before repeatedly slapping Ms Kong on her cheeks and head. She retaliated by hitting his face once.
Their other colleagues who heard the commotion stepped in and pleaded with Seow to calm down.
Still angry, he later charged at Ms Kong and pushed his niece against a table, causing her to fall down. Another male colleague stepped in and hugged Seow from behind to separate the pair.
Ms Kong managed to slip away soon after before going to Parkway East Hospital, where she was found with injuries, including a bruise on her right arm and an abrasion on her right thigh. She was then given three days of medical leave.
Ms Kang lodged a police report on May 12, 2018.
The court heard that the incident was captured on closed circuit television camera in the office and the clip was later uploaded onto YouTube. It was not mentioned in court who had done so.
The case has been adjourned to a hearing to assess if Seow had adjustment disorder before, during or after he committed the offences. The pre-trial conference will be held on Aug 13.
Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the Law Society said it has zero tolerance for lawyers abusing or harassing staff.
It added: “We take a dim view of such conduct that brings the profession into disrepute.”
The Law Society has since filed the application to the Court of Three Judges for Seow to show cause why he should not be sanctioned.
It said that after Seow’s criminal proceedings have concluded, it will apply for a date to be fixed for a hearing before the Court of Three Judges.
For assault, Seow can be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.
And for using criminal force, he can be jailed for up to three months and fined up to $1,500.