SINGAPORE — A Singapore Management University (SMU) undergraduate accused of molesting a woman in a study room on campus testified on Monday (5 April) that the alleged victim had not objected to his advances.
He felt that the both of them were becoming more intimate throughout their interactions.
Lee Yan Ru, 24, is accused of rubbing his genitals on the 22-year-old woman as she lay on the floor of a study room in SMU at around 6.30am on 8 January 2019. This was only the second time they had met in person.
Lee took the stand for the first time on Monday to deny the charges against him. When asked by his lawyer, Josephine Chee, if he had committed the act intending to outrage the modesty of the alleged victim, Lee replied, "No."
When the woman testified in the earlier tranche of the trial late last year, she said that she had rebuffed all of Lee’s advances, but did not take further action for fear of offending or embarrassing Lee. She repeatedly claimed that she did not verbalise her objections as she thought her actions were enough to put him off.
Attracted to the woman
Lee however, did admit that he was attracted to the woman and that he wanted to get closer to her, detailing the playful interactions between the two.
Lee, currently a fourth-year student at SMU’s school of business said he came to know about the woman after seeing her profile in the “explore” page in Instagram. He happened upon her a story of her wearing sunglasses and commented that she looked good in them. After a short conversation, Lee suggested buying a meal for her. Asked by his lawyer why he had done so, he said, “I’d like to know her better”.
The two continued chatting on the app.
On 7 January 2019, Lee suggested that the woman, who is not from SMU, study at a cafe near SMU. The woman took up his suggestion and the two met for the first time at an area near the cafe before walking there together.
Asked to describe their interaction, Lee said, “I thought we were very friendly with each other even though we met for the first time, there seems to be no awkwardness between us.”
While at the cafe, Lee sat beside her and poked her tummy. “I was trying to be playful with her and to know if she was okay with this interaction with me,” he said.
“She was okay with it…"
While the woman seemed fine, she gently pushed his hands away after several pokes. He added that the woman was smiling and did not show any “signs fo disagreement”.
Chee then asked Lee how he felt about their interactions. Lee responded, “It was quite pleasant that even though we met for first time, we could have such playful interactions between us.”
Met up again
After he left for a class, Lee suggested that the two meet on a night that week to study.
“We both had assignments we wanted to do and through our conversations… and first meet-up… I was quite attracted to her and wanting to get to know her and spend more time with her... I hoped to know whether she was feeling the same towards me as well,” he said.
The woman suggested that they meet that very night, and Lee agreed. She arrived at the School of Economics building around 1am on 8 January 2019 and Lee brought her to a study room on the third floor.
While the woman had previously said that she was shocked Lee had not brought her to the library, Lee said she had not expressed such sentiment that night.
While sitting opposite the woman, Lee stretched out his legs and placed his feet on the woman’s thighs.
"I felt that we were getting more comfortable with each other so I wanted to be more playful a bit," he said. "I wanted to get closer to her... I also wanted to know if she is fine with these playful interactions with me."
When asked how the woman reacted, he said, “I believed she was completely fine with it... I recalled my feet dropping off from her thighs and I remember her putting my feet back onto her thighs.”
After a few minutes, Lee removed his feet. At one point the woman said that she wanted to change her clothes and did so in the room, though Lee wanted to bring her to the toilet, according to him.
Lee recalled that he asked the woman for her reaction if he took a peek, and the woman replied that she trusted him.
Chee then asked, “Did you peek at her?”. Lee replied, "No."
Watched a movie under the table
Shortly before 2am, the two watched a movie on the floor of the study room. Lee then suggested that they move under the table to get away from the glaring lights, and the woman agreed.
From his perspective, Lee said that he was “glad” that the woman was getting more comfortable with him. “She was spending time with me. She completed her assignment and she decided to stay in that room with me and watch (a) movie with me. So, I was very happy.
“I was very happy because I myself wanted to get closer to her to get more comfortable with her and more intimate with her.”
He later placed his arm across her shoulder and the woman did not react. He then asked her what would happen if he tickled her, and the woman said she would punch him, in a playful manner, according to Lee.
He then tickled her underarm, prompting her to flick his forehead gently, he said.
Chee asked, “What was going through your mind at that time?”
“I was happy, comfortable being around her and along the way, we just got more and more playful and intimate with each other,” he replied.
At one point, Lee slipped his hands under the woman’s singlet and touched her breasts over her bra. He said he could recall her giggling for a moment.
Asked why he touched her breast, Lee said, “I felt throughout the night, since she entered the classroom, we were getting more and more comfortable with each other... more intimate with each other. So, I then proceeded to touch her right breast to get even more intimate with her and I felt that... she was fine with it.”
“She was fine with it because it went on for a few seconds before she gently removed my hands from her singlet,” said Lee. He then decided to take things “step by step” and stopped doing so.
Asked about his impression of the alleged victim, Lee said, "I feel that she is a nice person to be around, I was very very comfortable around her and I believe that she was feeling comfortable towards me… we were progressing well throughout the night and to me, she was completely fine with all my advances."
The trial continues on Monday afternoon.
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