SINGAPORE - A former senior lecturer from the National University of Singapore (NUS) who molested an undergraduate while on board the campus shuttle bus was sentenced to 14 weeks' jail on Thursday (Oct 17).
Long Yun, who was part of the faculty at the university's Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, had rubbed his groin against the left thigh of a 20-year-old female student for about four minutes.
The court heard that Long, who moved to Singapore from China in 2013 and became a permanent resident in 2015, and the student were on board the NUS shuttle bus service A1 along Lower Kent Ridge Road on Jan 14 this year at around noon.
The shuttle bus is accessible to members of the public, and travels from Kent Ridge MRT station to various parts of the university campus.
As the bus was crowded, the student, who cannot be named due to a gag order, boarded through the rear door and stood next to a standing pole.
Long also boarded through the same door and stood near the victim, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Benedict Chan.
When the bus arrived at the next bus stop, he decided to hold on to the standing pole next to the student, and stood directly in front of her at a "very close" distance, said DPP Chan.
When the bus moved, it jolted forward and Long's groin rubbed against the student's left thigh, leading him to be aroused.
Long, who is married with an eight-year-old son, then shifted his body closer to her, and intentionally rubbed his groin against her left thigh again, the court heard.
This continued until he alighted at the fourth bus stop about four minutes later.
The student, feeling shocked and confused, realised that she had been molested and told a friend.
They eventually sought assistance from a campus security officer and referred the matter to the police.
"While there was no skin-to-skin contact, the contact between Long and the victim was far from fleeting, lasting a total of four minutes," said DPP Chan.
He also disputed the defence's argument that the harm caused to the victim was minimal.
Citing a victim impact statement that was recorded from the student on Wednesday, DPP Chan said she now refrains from taking the campus shuttle bus out of fear of being molested again.
She also has emotional breakdowns when she recalls the incident, he added.
He said the fact that the offence occurred while Long and the victim were on board a public transport vehicle is an aggravating factor in the case, and called for the court to sentence Long to not less than 14 weeks' jail.
Long's lawyer T.M. Sinnadurai urged the court to sentence his client, a first-time offender, to eight weeks' jail.
Mr Sinnadurai said the offence was not premeditated as it happened on the spur of the moment, and noted that his client pleaded guilty "at the earliest opportunity".
He said Long has "demonstrated sincere remorse" by attending counselling sessions to rehabilitate himself, and has also offered compensation to the student.
The lawyer added that Long, who holds a PhD in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University, was recognised by NUS in 2016 for his dedication and commitment as an educator, and was listed on the Honours List for the Faculty of Engineering.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, an NUS spokesman said Long’s employment was terminated in February after an internal investigation.
A university pastoral staff provided support to the student from the time she reported the incident until care was no longer required, added the spokesman.
“We take a very serious view of staff misconduct, and disciplinary action will be taken against those who have breached our staff code of conduct,” he said.