Masseur jailed, caned for molesting customer

Under the guise of giving her a massage, a 35-year-old masseur molested a woman repeatedly, rubbing her breasts more than 10 times over the span of a minute.

Hu Xidong, a masseur at Zufu Foot Reflexology, was yesterday given nine months' jail and three strokes of the cane for outraging the modesty of a woman. Two other charges for outrage of modesty were taken into consideration.

The woman, a Japanese national, had visited the outlet in Beach Road and requested a foot and upper back massage on July 19, 2016.

While she had visited the outlet before, it was the first time the 28-year-old had asked for an upper back massage and she was not sure of the procedure, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Eunice Lau.

After massaging her feet for about 40 minutes, Hu told her to go to a bed in a curtained area.

Based on her past experiences elsewhere, the female customer went to the area and removed her clothing, leaving only her underwear on.

She then lay face-down on the bed and put a towel over the back of her body. Hu later entered the area and began massaging her.

At one point, he removed her towel, pulling her underwear down to massage her. The woman did not know how to react as she was not sure if this was out of the ordinary, said DPP Lau.

Hu told her to flip over, and she did so, covering herself with the towel.

But after massaging her head and shoulders for a few moments, he removed the towel, and began to rub her breasts for at least a minute.

While she knew this was not part of the massage, she was too shocked to react, said DPP Lau.

Immediately after the session, she tried to tell the receptionist about her ordeal. But the receptionist could not understand English, the court heard. The victim made a police report that night.

DPP Lau said the case showed an "abuse of trust in a customer-masseur relationship", as the woman was in a situation where it was hard to discern ill intentions.

Lawyer Julian Lim, who represented Hu, said his client - who suffers from an anxiety disorder and had been distracted during the session - thought the woman had requested a full body massage.

But District Judge Kenneth Yap said that being anxious did not give Hu a licence to "absent-mindedly molest people".

Hu, who will begin his sentence on May 21, could have faced up to two years' jail, a fine, caning, or a combination of the three.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2018, with the headline 'Masseur jailed, caned for molesting customer'. Print Edition | Subscribe