A Mathematics teacher at an international school here had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student and manipulated her into keeping it a secret.
They engaged in sex acts on four occasions, and on two such instances, he instructed her to consume contraceptive pills after.
The Singapore permanent resident, 29, who cannot be named due to a gag order protecting the victim’s identity, was on Monday sentenced to five years’ jail.
He had pleaded guilty to three charges of sexual penetration of a minor, with two similar charges taken into consideration for his sentencing.
The court heard that the victim, now 17, is a Chinese national who came to Singapore in February 2019 to pursue an education.
The accused started teaching Mathematics at the school in January that year. They became acquainted around March as he taught her class and the victim would ask him for study materials.
They subsequently exchanged contact details and the victim would confide in him on issues she faced as a newly arrived foreign student.
On April 6 that year the accused invited the victim and her friend, a 20-year-old man, to his house for lunch. Prior to her friend’s arrival, the teacher hugged and kissed her on the face.
As she was leaving, the accused asked her to be his girlfriend, and she agreed as she thought it would be good to have a teacher to care for her.
During their relationship, they kissed in school when no one else was around. They also had sex on four occasions at his home over a period of two months.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Colin Ng told the court: “The accused told the victim that it was a ‘natural thing’ for couples to engage in sexual intercourse.
“He also told the victim not to tell anyone about their sexual activities as this would harm her reputation and it would be ‘terrible’ for her if her parents found out about it.”
They broke up in mid-June that year, after the victim informed him that she had plans to transfer to another school. It was also the end of the school term and the end of the teacher’s employment with the school.
The girl later confided in a friend about the break up and revealed that she had engaged in sex acts with the accused.
Furious, her friend took her to school to confront the accused, who persuaded the victim not to report the matter to the police.
The victim went back to China in July 2019 and told her mother about what had happened. The older woman called the girl’s guardian in Singapore and a police report was lodged.
The teacher was abroad at the time but was arrested when he returned to Singapore.
The victim’s psychiatric report stated that she felt sad, angry and fearful since her involvement with the accused. She is also fearful of men and has difficulty trusting others.
Seeking five to six years’ jail, DPP Ng said the accused had abused the trust accorded to him as a teacher: “He knew it was inappropriate for a teacher to enter into a relationship with his student but (did so) nonetheless.”
He added that the contraceptive pills were obtained from a dubious source – a contact the accused obtained from an online forum – and had put the victim’s health at risk.
The lawyer of the accused, Mr Shashi Nathan from Withers KhattarWong LLP, said in mitigation that shortly into the relationship, the accused deeply regretted it and sought to distance himself from her.
“However, the moment (the victim) felt he was distant, she would repeatedly tell him how much she missed and loved him,” said Mr Nathan.
The lawyer added that his client acknowledges the gravity of the situation and should never have got involved with a minor.