Grad student arrested for molestation in research ruse

A 17-year-old boy alleged that he was molested by a graduate student from NTU on Nov 13, 2017, after responding to an ad looking for boys "to assist in research project regarding body stimulation in forms of light sensation touches".
A 17-year-old boy alleged that he was molested by a graduate student from NTU on Nov 13, 2017, after responding to an ad looking for boys "to assist in research project regarding body stimulation in forms of light sensation touches".PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM CRAIGSLIST

A 25-year-old graduate student from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was arrested yesterday after being accused of molesting a teenager under the guise of conducting a research project.

The police confirmed with The Sunday Times yesterday that a 25-year-old man has been arrested for outrage of modesty. The Sunday Times understands that both the 17-year-old teenager and the alleged perpetrator are Singaporean.

The teenager told NTU's campus newspaper, The Nanyang Chronicle, in an article yesterday that he had responded to the graduate student's advertisements for participants in his research project.

Cached copies of the purported ads on Craigslist and Gumtree said a "local research student" was looking for boys in junior colleges, polytechnics or secondary schools "to assist in research project regarding body stimulation in forms of light sensation touches".

The Gumtree ad, posted on Nov 3 last year, said participants would receive hourly remuneration. The Craigslist ad on Nov 2 said there was no minimum age, but participants had to be no older than 24. It offered up to $25++ per hour, and an additional $10 per session for students aged 16 and below.

The teenager, who was not named, said he met the graduate student at the lobby of an NTU graduate hall at around 8pm on Nov 13.

He told The Nanyang Chronicle that he was led to a dormitory room, where he was blindfolded and restrained to a bed while naked. He alleged that the graduate student stimulated his genitals after tickling him for an hour.

The graduate student then paid him $55 to masturbate, claiming he had done the same with another participant, the teenager said in The Nanyang Chronicle.

When contacted by The Nanyang Chronicle, the graduate student denied involvement in the research study and ads. He said his mobile number had been listed without his knowledge or permission.

The teenager told The Sunday Times that when he was instructed to meet the man at Graduate Hall 1, he was not aware that it was a student dormitory.

But having spent $16 on the Uber ride from his Yishun home, he decided to carry on: "I needed the money, and it was fast cash."

He said he felt uncomfortable during the encounter but did not protest or attempt to leave as the student was "a big, very tall guy".

"It's like sitting on a roller-coaster ride - after it has begun, you immediately regret it but it's too late to leave," said the teenager, who added that he did not tell his parents about the incident and that "they can't know about this".

"Honestly, it's partly my fault for being so naive ... I thought since the student was from NTU, it was legitimate and nothing could go wrong."

He decided to speak up on the advice of a close friend, to warn others against making the same mistake.

"I wouldn't say I'm not angry at him (for what he did), but we all make mistakes at some point of our lives. We both lost something here ... I just hope he will learn something from this," he said.

An NTU spokesman told The Sunday Times yesterday: "The university views academic and research misconduct as serious disciplinary offences. There is no such scientific or scholarly research project that has been undertaken. Any research involving human participants must be submitted to the Institutional Review Board for review and approval."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 21, 2018, with the headline 'Grad student arrested for molestation in research ruse'. Print Edition | Subscribe