SINGAPORE — A private tutor molested his male students, then between 10 and 12 years old, during their tuition lessons when he was alone with each boy separately at their own homes.
Sou Kum Choi, 57, was sentenced to 50 months’ jail with another three months’ jail in lieu of caning since he cannot be caned under the law past the age of 50.
Sou pleaded guilty on Friday (Nov 3) to molesting an 11-year-old victim. He was convicted in August this year of two similar charges, which he had elected to contest, that were committed against another victim.
Three other similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Apart from these, Sou had been convicted before of outrage of modesty, having molested a minor while giving private tuition.
The two victims involved in the latest cases cannot be named due to a court order to protect their identities.
TRIED TO KISS VICTIM
The court heard that Sou was a private tuition teacher for a boy from June 2015 to June 21, 2019 after he was introduced to the boy’s parents by their neighbours.
Sou was the boy’s tutor for four subjects, namely English, mathematics, science and Chinese, and would hold tuition lessons about two to three times a week for these.
These lessons would either be held in the bedroom or living room of the boy’s flat, with his grandparents around.
From April 2016 to April 2018, on at least 20 occasions, Sou would either touch the boy’s lower half of the body inappropriately or slide his hands underneath the boy’s shorts and underwear to touch his private part.
Sou also kissed the boy on the left cheek on at least four different occasions starting from early 2019, and tried to kiss him on the lips a few times but did not succeed because the boy would move away.
The offences came to light on June 22 in 2019, when the boy finally disclosed to his mother that Sou had touched him inappropriately.
A police report was filed the next day but court documents did not disclose if Sou was arrested.
VICTIM DIDN’T KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING
In August this year, Sou was convicted of two other molestation charges against a young male victim whom he tutored from March 12, 2014 to Oct 3, 2016.
The victim, who is now 19, was between 10 and 12 years old when he was taking tuition lessons from Sou, at a frequency of two to three times a week. The lessons were held in the victim’s room at home.
Each time they had a lesson, Sou and the victim would sit next to one another at the study table with the door closed.
During the three-day trial in court, the teenager testified that Sou would slide his fingers underneath the bottom of his shorts in an attempt to “progressively move his hand inwards” nearer to his private part — the subject of Sou’s first charge.
The teenager said that he would resist Sou’s touches by pushing away the tutor’s hand.
He also gave his testimony in relation to the second charge, which involved Sou getting the teenager to perform a sexual act.
When asked by the prosecution why he did not shout for help, the teenager explained that he “was confused” and unsure about what was going on at the time.
He added that it took quite some time for him to process what was happening to him and that he did not know what was going on until many years later.
The teenager later chose to report the incident to the police after having a conversation with a friend who also attended tuition classes with Sou.
Following the teenager’s police report, Sou was arrested on March 17 in 2021.
‘MENACE TO SOCIETY’
Seeking 50 to 54 months’ jail as well as three-and-a-half months’ jail in lieu of eight strokes of the cane, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Adelle Tai argued that this was not the first time that Sou had committed such offences and it certainly would not be the last unless a deterrent sentence was imposed on him.
She said that the jail term that the prosecution sought was necessary to instil in Sou the fear of re-offending and to send a clear message to like-minded offenders that such crimes will meet the full extent of punishment under the law.
DPP Tai added that the series of offences committed by Sou from as early as 2006 showed that the tutor’s conduct was not a momentary behaviour but instead reflect a consistent pattern of offending, indicating that he was entirely unrepentant and a “menace to society”.
For each charge of using criminal force to outrage the modesty of any person under 14 years of age, Sou could have been jailed for up to five years, fined or caned, or been penalised with any combination of these punishments.