Veteran athletics coach accused of molesting teen athlete

Veteran athletics coach Loh Siang Piow, who is accused of using criminal force and molesting the teen, outside the State Courts yesterday.
Veteran athletics coach Loh Siang Piow, who is accused of using criminal force and molesting the teen, outside the State Courts yesterday.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

On first day of trial, victim's parents describe how she was determined to make a report

The woman who is accusing veteran athletics coach Loh Siang Piow of molesting her in 2013 was determined to report him to the police.

She was 18 years old when she was allegedly molested twice by Loh, now 73. He is better known in the sport fraternity as Loh Chan Pew.

The woman's mother took the stand yesterday on the first day of the trial. She said she had warned her daughter of possible consequences in reporting Loh.

The mother told the athlete, who had enrolled in a degree programme in 2013: "Police will call you now and then. You will have to miss lessons, skip your job... but she was all ready for it."

She told the court that her daughter revealed details of the alleged incidents, and added that she wanted to report Loh "for the good of the rest of the young girls".

The mother said her daughter also added: "He did this to us, and there is a possibility that he did it to other girls too."

To protect her identity, the alleged victim and her family cannot be named.

Loh is accused of using criminal force and rubbing the teenager's genitals on two occasions while massaging the back of her thighs.

Loh is a former national sprinter who won a 4x100m relay silver at the 1973 South-east Asian Peninsular Games.

He remains Singapore Athletics' vice-president (competitions organising), but is currently on a leave of absence.

The first incident is alleged to have occurred on a Sunday between January 2013 and March 17, 2013, on a bench in Tampines Stadium. The second allegedly took place on March 17, 2013, on a massage bed inside an equipment room in the same stadium.

Three similar charges involving a 16-year-old female athlete were stood down.

The girl's father was the first of six prosecution witnesses to take the stand.

He said: "She did not share with me anything other than the incident that cropped up. I thought it was a one-off, and advised her to forgive him (Loh) and move on.

"But she said, 'Pa, you do not know what he did to me'."

She snapped at him, broke down and then revealed details of the incident. "Fathers and daughters do not use such language, and I was taken aback," he said.

Although his wife had told him that their daughter had made a police report against the coach, he did not see the report himself and did not know the details, until his daughter's teary revelation.

He added: "I felt a sense of regret as I had been sending her to training and disappointed that I couldn't have done (more)."

Loh is a former national sprinter who won a 4x100m relay silver at the 1973 South-east Asian Peninsular Games.

He remains Singapore Athletics' vice-president (competitions organising), but is currently on a leave of absence.

The trial resumes today.

If convicted of using criminal force with the intention of outraging the modesty of a person, he can be punished with jail of up to two years, a fine, caning or any combined sentence.

As Loh is above 50 years old, no caning will be imposed if he is found guilty.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2018, with the headline 'Veteran coach accused of molesting teen athlete'. Print Edition | Subscribe