SINGAPORE — A woman who felt scratching on her right thigh during a morning commute grabbed the perpetrator’s hand and later handed him over to an SMRT staff member.
Dr Shen Rui Fu, a 54-year-old engineer, was later arrested for molest.
Shen was sentenced to 18 days’ jail on one count of molest on Tuesday (9 February) after he pleaded guilty to the charge.
On the morning of 12 December 2018, the 39-year-old victim boarded an SMRT train at Ang Mo Kio MRT station. Shen had boarded the train at a previous station.
The woman stood on the train near the door and looking at her mobile phone, while Shen stood to her right facing a different direction.
About 15 minutes into the journey, as the train travelled from Ang Mo Kio MRT station to Bishan MRT station, the victim felt something scratching her right inner thigh. She looked down and saw Shen’s right hand touching her right inner thigh over her skirt in a “scratching motion”.
She immediately grabbed Shen’s hand and shouted for help. When the train stopped at Bishan MRT station, the victim alighted and told Shen to alight as well. A male commuter also alighted from the train to accompany the victim.
Shen was then handed over to an SMRT service ambassador. The police were called and the accused person was subsequently arrested.
Shen’s lawyer Raphael Louis sought a fine for his client, describing the offence as a “spur of the moment, one-off occurrence”.
The lawyer pointed out that there was no skin to skin contact, adding that he was not justifying the offence or making light of the victim’s trauma, and pointing out “legal nuances”.
Raphael cited National University of Singapore undergraduate Terence Siow’s case, in which Siow was jailed two weeks on two incidents of molest. The lawyer pointed out that in his client’s case, there was only one charge and no skin to skin contact.
He asked the court to impose a one-week jail term if a fine did not suffice.
When asked by District Judge Marvin Bay about his client’s contributions to society and achievements, the lawyer said he would leave it in documents submitted to the court.
The prosecution sought three to four weeks’ jail for Shen, stating that he had committed the offence while on public transport.
In sentencing Shen, DJ Bay said he was “mindful of Dr Shen’s contributions to geo-technological sciences and the construction industry in this country”.
On the comparison with Siow’s case, DJ Bay said that there was a “considerable difference in age”. “Dr Shen is an individual who is far more mature in years, and would certainly be expected to know better,” he said.
He noted that Shen had made some donations to the Association of Women for Action and Research after the offence.
“I do note that the offence was committed in our public transport network, and it is essential that all commuters should feel safe and protected from unwanted groping, touches, scratches or other acts of molestation while using our public transport system.”
For molest, Shen could have been jailed up to two years, or fined, or caned, or with any combination of the punishments.
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