Teacher found guilty of molesting boy

There were other students around, but their presence did not stop an art teacher from molesting one of his male students.

A district court heard that the teacher, now 38, squeezed the right side of the Secondary 2 student's chest and told the 13-year-old boy he resembled a Japanese pornographic comic character. He also touched the boy's groin and buttock later that afternoon.

After a nine-day trial, District Judge John Ng found the teacher guilty of three counts of molestation yesterday. The man cannot be named owing to a gag order to protect the boy's identity.

In her submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong said that on Feb 17, 2016, the boy was working on a sculpture in the school's Art Studio 1. Some time after 3pm, the teacher walked over to his boy's table and molested him.

Said DPP Chong: "The victim felt uncomfortable as a result of the accused's touching... He wanted to complete the sculpture and go home at the earliest moment possible. He therefore shrugged it off."

The teacher then went to the Higher Art Room. At around 4pm to 5pm, the boy took his sculpture into this room to ask for the teacher's guidance.

The man started asking him questions on sensitive topics and said his student's leg hair was "very sexy". He then molested the boy two more times. The court heard that as the boy walked out of the Higher Art Room, the man asked him: "Why? Too shy?"

When the boy reached home, he told his mother what happened and she called his form teacher, who alerted the school's management.

The school principal testified in court that she and the vice-principal met the art teacher the next day. She said he appeared "shocked and remorseful" and also told her "he knew he was overboard".

The court heard during the trial that the man denied molesting the teenager. He is out on bail of $15,000 and will be back in court on Aug 14.

A Ministry of Education (MOE) spokesman yesterday said in response to queries from The Straits Times that disciplinary action will be taken against the man, who has been suspended from duty since February 2016. "MOE takes a serious view of educator misconduct. Educators who fail to comply with our standards of conduct and discipline will be subjected to disciplinary action. In serious cases, they may be dismissed from the service," the spokesman added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'Teacher found guilty of molesting boy'. Print Edition | Subscribe