SMU Molest Trial: Student Sentenced To 10 Months' Jail, 3 Strokes Of The Cane

A Singapore Management University undergraduate convicted of molesting a woman on campus in 2019 was sentenced to 10 months’ jail and three strokes of the cane on Monday (25 October). 

Lee Yan Ru, 25, was accused of rubbing his genitals on the woman as she lay on the floor of a campus study room at around 6.30am on 8 January 2019. The two had agreed to meet at SMU for an overnight study session.

According to the then 22-year-old victim, she had been rejecting Lee’s advances in the lead-up to the incident by pushing him away, or telling him to go away and to stop his actions.

In his defence, Lee maintained that the woman, who was not an SMU student, had been growing more comfortable with him and had not minded his advances despite her seeming resistance at the time.

In earlier convicting Lee, District Judge Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz rejected Lee’s testimony in court, which contained “inexplicable material omissions and contradictions”. She the judge found that the victim had been “an inherently credible, forthcoming witness who provided her evidence with clarity and without hesitation or embellishment”. 

Delivering her decision on Lee’s sentence, DJ Sripathy-Shanaz found that Lee had steadfastly maintained that he had done nothing wrong, even to the present moment. 

His denial about his culpability belayed his lack of insight into the wrongfulness of his actions. His absence of remorse is not at all suggestive of his persona; resolve to reform, found the judge. 

While Lee’s lawyers had said that the court case would impact his future, the argument lacked persuasiveness and was not relevant to sentencing, said the judge. 

“A person who breaches criminal law must expect to face consequences to follow under criminal law,” said DJ Sripathy-Shanaz. 

“Sexual offences… are a gross violation of the fundamental values of society and offenders should expect to face the full force of the law.”

“(I have) no doubt that lee encounter will remain firmly etched in his mind he will also have to bear the collateral consequences which extend far beyond these proceedings. However these are the natural consequences that flow from his bad choice.”

In calibrating the sentence, the judge found the degree of sexual exploitation to be high and that the touch was more than fleeting, and had began while the victim was asleep. The victim had also been placed in a position of submission. 

The judge also took into account the psychological toll on the victim, who said she felt disrespected and degraded. The victim testified that she could not sleep for a few days after the incident, and had been diagnosed with acute stress disorder and was prescribed with medication to alleviate her anxiety over the court case. 

Lee will be appealing his conviction and sentence and has had his sentence stayed for the time being. 

Facts of the case

According to evidence tendered in court, the woman said that Lee had invited her to study together at the study room at around 12am on 8 January.

The two then met at about 1am outside the School of Economics and Social Science building of SMU before Lee brought her to the study room. There, Lee made series of advances on the victim, who rejected them. 

Later, at about 4am, Lee allegedly fell asleep on a chair while the woman covered her head with a jacket and fell asleep on the floor. As she was sleeping, she suddenly felt a weight on top of her and found Lee masturbating above her. She told him to stop, to no avail. 

He only ceased upon ejaculating towards her facial area. After the incident, Lee wiped the woman’s neck, face and hair with tissue paper and discarded these in a plastic bag.

Afterward, the woman left the room for the security counter at the first level, followed by Lee. She spoke to the building’s security officer before calling the police.

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