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An undergraduate student at the National University of Singapore (NUS) — currently Asia’s top university — has reportedly avoided prison for molesting a woman thanks to his stellar academic record.
Terence Siow Kai Yuan, 23, was accused of touching a woman twice on her thigh and once at her private parts at Serangoon MRT station on Sept. 12, 2018, The New Paper reported.
According to court documents, Siow noticed the woman with “very long legs” and decided to sit next to her. He then “felt the urge” to touch her, using his left hand to contact her right thigh.
While the woman had turned away and crossed her legs, Siow managed to touch her right thigh once again. He then followed her when she dropped off at Serangoon station, standing behind her on an escalator and touching her buttocks.
The woman reportedly turned around and yelled at Siow, who in turn walked away quickly. She reported the incident to a station officer before filing a police report.
Three days later, Siow was arrested in Hougang. It was revealed that he had been convicted in a previous hearing, which accused him of similar acts.
The prosecution reportedly called for a six-week sentence for Siow, arguing that his commission of such acts has developed into a “deep-seated habit.”
However, District Judge Jasvender Kaur challenged such a position, describing what Siow had done as “minor intrusions.”
“Looking at the nature of intrusion, I would say it is minor,” Kaur said, according to The New Paper.
When the prosecution pointed out that the first two acts involved skin-to-skin contact, Kaur responded, “[It was] just a brief touch on the thigh.”
Siow’s lawyer reportedly argued that his client has been “getting help” and has expressed his intent to change.
Kaur acknowledged the defense’s statement, saying, “I think there can be no doubt that there is [an] extremely strong propensity for reform.”
She then cited Siow’s academic record, remarking that he has the “potential to excel in life.”
“He was 22 years old when he committed the offences…and the nature of the acts (is) relatively minor,” she added.
Siow, who has two years left before graduation, allegedly works as a part-time math tutor with Singapore-based Champion Tutor.
His alleged profile, which is no longer available, shows him as having a cumulative average point (CAP) of 4.39 out of a perfect 5.
Instead of jail, Kaur sentenced Siow to 21 months of supervised probation and 150 hours of community service after pleading guilty to one charge of outraging the modesty, The Straits Times reported. His parents are also bonded for 5,000 Singaporean dollars ($3,620) to help ensure his good behavior.
Siow’s victim, identified as Karmen Siew, expressed her disappointment in a Facebook post. She also clarified some details about the incident.
“It was not my buttocks. He ran his finger along my genital area,” she wrote.
According to Siew, she refused an offer of 5,000 Singaporean dollars ($3,620) to compound the case for a lighter sentence. Apparently, the sentence Siow got is the result of her refusal.
“I’m not angry anymore,” she noted. “I am just disappointed that the courts are choosing to treat an adult who has committed multiple sexual offences (not only on me, but on others) as a child, but I am not surprised.”
Siew also referenced Brock Turner, an American sex offender who was sentenced to six months in prison after raping a woman. “He literally got a ‘get out of jail’ free card because of his academic performance,” she added.
A change.org petition has been launched in response to Siow’s sentence. As of this writing, it holds more than 36,000 signatures and counting out of 50,000.
“On September 25, 2019, the Singapore rule of law took another step backwards in protecting the modesty of females,” petition author Kyle Leung wrote. “In describing defendant Terence Siow Kai Yuan’s molestation offences as ‘minor intrusions’ several times during the final judgment, as well as accepting that his education status as an undergraduate and ‘potential to excel in life’ was a mitigating factor against prescribing a jail sentence, District Judge Jasvender Kaur has insulted a nation of mothers and daughters.”
Supporters slammed Siow for his actions and Kaur for the sentence she had handed.
Featured Images via Facebook (Left) and Champion Tutor (Right)