SINGAPORE - A massage therapist claimed to have developed his own version of tui na after about 40 years of "research" into the traditional Chinese therapeutic massage.
But when a woman sought Willet Ong Tat Kee for help with her chronic back pain in 2016, he went further and touched her in her intimate parts, claiming that he could prevent breast and cervical cancers.
Ong molested the woman on four separate occasions in 2016.
The 32-year-old victim, who cannot be named due to a gag order, sensed that something was amiss only on her final visit on Nov 30 that year, when Ong touched her genitals.
On Thursday (March 19), District Judge Kessler Soh found Ong, 67, guilty of four counts of molestation after a trial.
A fifth charge of operating a massage establishment without a valid licence is still pending and will be dealt with at a later date.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Goh Yi Ling and Mark Yeo stated in their submissions that the woman first got to know about Ong from her "master" at a temple she attended.
The court that she had earlier sought treatment from various tui na practitioners in Singapore and Malaysia for her back pain but did not get better.
The woman decided to contact Ong after her master claimed that the massage therapist "could save her".
She went to Ong's home for the first time in July 2016. He then told her to change into a tube top and pair of shorts which he provided.
Details about the temple and Ong's home were not disclosed in court documents.
During the trial, the woman testified that Ong massaged her entire body. She told Judge Soh that Ong also pulled down the tube top and touched her breasts.
After that, the court heard that he pressed against her pubic bone. The woman said that Ong had told her that he did so to "prevent" breast and cervical cancers.
After the session, she paid him and left the premises. She returned three more times after that.
The DPPs stated in their submissions: "After the fourth treatment session, the victim felt angry with the accused, as she felt that touching her urethra had nothing to do with treating her back pain. Immediately after leaving the accused's home, the victim called her husband and told him what had happened."
She alerted the police soon after.
Ong testified in court that he had been involved in tui na for about 40 years and developed his own "Willet zone point therapy" based on his years of "research".
He had also claimed that his therapy was more advanced that the usual traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) ones. A check on the online registry for TCM practitioners revealed that he is not listed there.
Ong, who is represented by lawyer T. M. Sinnadurai, did not dispute that he might have touched the woman's breasts and pubic bone area while massaging her.
The court heard that the central dispute for the case was whether he had intentionally touched those parts. The DPPs had stated: "The answer to this question is undoubtedly 'yes'."
Ong is now out on bail of $10,000 and will be sentenced on April 23.
For each count of molestation, offenders can be jailed for up to two years and fined or caned. Ong cannot be caned, as he is over 50 years old.