A Singaporean man who pretended to be a charity worker so that he could molest and take pictures of women’s feet is now in jail.
Tan Boon Hwee, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of outrage of modesty on Wednesday. He was sentenced to two weeks and five days in jail for two separate incidents that occurred in 2017 and 2019.
“Although the accused’s outrages of modesty are less intrusive because it involves feet and not private parts, it is anything but harmless,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En said. “It disrespects women’s autonomy over all parts of their bodies, and their right not to have any part of themselves sexually intruded upon without their consent.”
Details from Tan’s first victim were revealed in court on Wednesday. The 28-year-old female victim met the accused on Tinder and was taken to Singapore’s MacRitchie Reservoir for a date on July 16, 2017.
Tan, who used another name on the dating app, asked the woman if he could take photos of her feet for the “Barefoot Walking Society,” a charity he supposedly worked for. The woman had no idea the charity was fake.
“When [she] probed him for details of this charity, the accused said that it was a ‘low-key’ organization,” Chong said. “He insisted it was genuine, showing her photos of other women and their feet he had taken.”
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Tan’s first victim believed him, and he kept on adjusting her feet for the pictures as an excuse to “slowly touch and caress the soles of her feet.” He also called her toes “cute” and asked if she exercised. After around five minutes, the woman started protesting.
Tan stopped touching her feet and started asking her questions about her favorite male body parts and her intimate experiences with men. She eventually got up to leave and told him she only saw him as a friend. Tan sent her several messages after she got home, and he convinced her to meet him again.
He became aggressive after she admitted he was her first-ever Tinder date. He also threatened her after she asked for the pictures he took. Fearing for her safety because Tan remembered her workplace, the woman informed the police about the incident. However, she could not provide sufficient evidence for charges to be filed.
She alerted the authorities again after hearing about Tan’s conviction in January 2019, when he was charged with five counts of outrage of modesty and fined 8,000 Singaporean dollars (approximately $5,876).
Despite the charges and the fine, Tan continued to molest women. He returned to his old ways in March 2019 when he targeted an 18-year-old store assistant.
Tan introduced himself as someone working for Singapore’s People’s Association, then told the teenage victim that they were writing inspiring messages on soles of feet and taking photos of them for a collage.
The victim eventually agreed, thinking it was for a good cause. Tan then proceeded to put a ring on one of her toes and wrote “may your feet take you where you [sic] heart wants to go” on her feet.
The interaction lasted for 10 minutes, but it was more than enough to unsettle the woman. She eventually looked up Tan’s name online, and one of the search results informed her about his January 2019 conviction. She then reported her interaction with Tan to the police.
In addition to the incidents from 2017 and 2019, Tan was also charged with two counts of outrage of modesty in 2014.
“The accused’s deception as ‘charity’ preys on his victims’ kindness or generosity,” Chong said. “It preys on women’s fear of being seen as rude or abrasive, even to strangers. It makes a mockery of those involved in legitimate charitable activities.”
Tan’s defense lawyer called on the court for an assessment to see if the 32-year-old is eligible for a mandatory treatment order. The prosecution said psychiatrists could not agree on whether Tan had a fetishistic disorder. They also said Tan’s repeat offending may have been a result of his apparent lack of dedication to follow-up treatment.Tan could face fines, caning, up to two years in jail or all three punishments for each count of outrage of modesty. Another charge against him under the Protection from Harassment Act was also considered for his sentencing.