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SMU molestation case: Man, 25, convicted of outraging woman's modesty

SINGAPORE – A Singapore Management University (SMU) student has been convicted of molesting a woman on campus in 2019.

On Tuesday (Aug 31), District Judge Sharmila Sripathy found Lee Yan Ru, now 25, guilty of one count of molestation.

In delivering her verdict, the judge noted that Lee did not deny committing the sexual act on the victim, who was then 21 years old.

Instead, he had claimed that the victim was “fine” with his advances and that she had been “coy” with him.

During an earlier court proceeding, Lee had testified that he assumed the victim did not mean it when she told him to stop committing the offence.

On Tuesday, Judge Sharmila noted that the woman was asleep when Lee started performing the sexual act on her. As such, she was in no position to consent to it.

The judge also found that the woman had been truthful in court, and added that Lee “was fully aware (the victim) wanted him to desist”.

The victim, who was then studying at another university, cannot be named due to a gag order to protect her identity.

During the trial that started in September last year, the court heard that she got to know Lee on social media platform Instagram around December 2018 and that they had mutual friends.

On Jan 8, 2019, she met Lee outside SMU’s School of Economics and Social Sciences at around 1am for a study session and they went into a classroom.

The woman had earlier testified that while they were in the room, Lee committed acts such as placing his foot on her thigh several times.

She had also told the court that Lee groped her at around 4am and she prised his fingers off.

When Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Chong asked her during the trial why she did not leave, she replied: “I did not want to leave a bad impression or make him feel bad. I didn’t want to make things hostile.”

Lee then stimulated himself about two hours later while he was kneeling over the woman, who was asleep. She alerted the police at 6.37am.

During the trial last year, the woman told the court that after committing the offence, Lee took out some tissue paper to wipe her.

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DPP Chong had earlier said that the Health Sciences Authority’s DNA Profiling Laboratory found that the tissue paper contained Lee’s body fluids.

Swabs taken from the woman’s neck and face also gave similar results, the court heard.

Lee, who took the stand earlier this year, had testified that he did not think she meant it when she said “stop” and he had assumed the acts were consensual.

He had told the court: “When she said ‘stop’, to me, it was in a very jest(ful) manner… I believe she wanted me to carry on because throughout the night, she was getting more comfortable with me, there was this coy behaviour from her.”

Lee’s bail was set at $20,000 on Tuesday and he is expected to be sentenced on Oct 18.

For molestation, an offender can be jailed for up to two years and fined or caned.

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