Yoga instructor gets jail for molesting woman

A yoga instructor who molested his student before forcefully grabbing the back of her neck was sentenced to nine months' jail and a fine of $1,000 on Monday.

Following a 12-day trial which began in 2016, District Judge Luke Tan found Indian national Rakesh Kumar Prasad guilty earlier this year of one count each of outraging the modesty of the assistant manager and using criminal force on her.

He committed the offences against the woman, then aged 25, at a Real Yoga studio in Tampines between 12.40pm and 1.15pm on April 26, 2015.

Rakesh repeatedly molested her when she was alone. In the first instance, she was in a forward-bending pose when he cupped her left breast over her clothing. She immediately smacked his hand away and said: "Don't touch my boobs."

But instead of stopping, Rakesh pinched the woman's left upper breast and molested her again in a similar manner. He also said she should not shout in class when she told him to stop.

Rakesh also tried to slip his left hand into her bra to reach her left breast. She knocked his hand away, the court heard.

In his submission, Deputy Public Prosecutor James Chew said: "The victim... did not leave the class or seek help immediately because she was in a state of shock and disbelief. She felt helpless in that environment and did not know what to do.

"She had felt violated and embarrassed by the accused's actions, and was in disbelief that this could happen to her in a yoga class."

The court heard that the woman was walking out of the studio after the class when Rakesh grabbed her neck and pulled her backwards. He also told her: "Don't ever use the word 'boob' and don't shout in class, if not, people can hear".

The woman alerted the police the next day.

DPP Chew urged Judge Tan to sentence Rakesh to at least a year's jail with three strokes of the cane.

He said: "The accused had abused his position as a yoga instructor in repeatedly violating the victim in the midst of the yoga class."

Defence lawyer Steven Lam pleaded for a nine-month jail term and stressed that the touches were "fleeting".

He also told the court that Rakesh will be appealing against his conviction, and Judge Tan offered him bail of $16,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2018, with the headline 'Yoga instructor gets jail for molesting woman'. Print Edition | Subscribe