Singaporean man to appeal against 15-month jail term for molesting colleague at party

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The man, 50, claimed he had entered the victim's chalet room several times for innocuous reasons. — Comstock/Canva pic via TODAY

The man, 50, claimed he had entered the victim’s chalet room several times for innocuous reasons. — Comstock/Canva pic via TODAY

Thursday, 02 Jun 2022 1:36 PM MYT

SINGAPORE, June — A 50-year-old man was sentenced to 15 months’ jail on Thursday (June 2) for molesting a younger colleague while they were attending a work Christmas party at the National Service Resort & Country Club in 2018.

The Singaporean indicated through his lawyers, Edmond Pereira and Vanessa Poon, that he will be appealing against his conviction and sentence.

He was found guilty earlier this year after claiming trial to one count of outrage of modesty. He cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the victim’s identity.

His defence during the trial was that he had only entered the bedroom where the victim was sleeping on four occasions for innocuous reasons, climbed into bed with her to “sleep off a dizzy spell”, and that he only touched her on the hip or shoulder area to try to make space for himself.

He denied committing the offence and said he did not know the identity or even the gender of this person.

What happened

The pair met when the victim joined his team on a full-time basis in November 2018. He had worked there since 2010.

On Dec 13, 2018, their company held a Christmas party at the chalet located along Changi Coast Walk. Those who came could stay overnight in the bedrooms if they wanted, and there was no agreed allocation of rooms between men and women.

Several hours into the party, the victim fell asleep on a couch on the ground floor of the chalet around 11pm.

This was after a fancy dress competition where attendees, including the victim, wore costumes according to a specific theme. She had also drunk some alcohol.

Two colleagues then took her upstairs to a bedroom to sleep. Shortly later, another female colleague went to rest in the same room.

The other woman woke up after hearing someone enter the room. She testified that she heard the accused ask the victim if she was okay.

The other woman, identified as PW1 in court documents, opened and closed her eyes intermittently to rest due to her fatigue but did not fall asleep.

She saw the accused sit on the bed next to the victim, then half-kneel beside her and grope her chest.

PW1 said she also saw the accused holding his mobile phone towards the victim’s face and believed he was taking photos of her, but was unsure of this.

When he did not leave, PW1 pretended to wake up. They spoke for a bit before the accused left the room.

She decided to look for others to get the victim out of the chalet, then saw another colleague she was close to. Some of them then went back upstairs to find out the victim’s address in order to take her home.

They found the accused sitting on the victim’s bed again. He left the room quickly while PW1 approached the victim, tried to rouse her and asked for her address.

She said she was too tired and could not move, so PW1 decided to stay in the chalet to keep her company.

The victim testified that she remembered hearing someone repeatedly ask her if she was okay, then felt multiple light touches on her upper body, stomach and chest. She saw the accused next to her but fell asleep afterwards.

She then woke up again when she felt someone grope her “very aggressively” while kissing her mouth. She estimated that this lasted for a few minutes and she tried to push him away but failed due to her fatigue, she testified.

She saw the accused’s face “for a brief second”, and the assault stopped suddenly when voices came from the direction of the door.

She did not tell anyone what had happened, saying she was in shock and that the accused had always been nice to her. She also did not confront the accused, thinking he might cancel his overseas trip that day and threaten her.

She later spoke to PW1 and another colleague, which led her to believe that the accused had gone into the room to intentionally assault her a few times.

She then decided to lodge a report with her company’s human resources division and make a police report, concerned that the accused had photographed her.

Those convicted of molestation can be jailed up to two years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of the three. However, those aged 50 or above, like the accused, cannot be caned under Singapore law. — TODAY

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