A teacher who headed his school's department for character and citizenship had a sexual relationship with his 15-year-old student and "robbed her of her innocence", a court heard yesterday.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kavita Uthrapathy said the 33-year-old treated the girl as his "sexual plaything", then left her contemplating suicide after he married his fiancee.
She sought a six-year jail sentence for the teacher, who cannot be named to protect the girl.
Now jobless, he admitted to five of 10 sex offence charges, including one of committing an obscene act with a young person.
The local merit teaching scholarship recipient was the girl's form teacher in 2011 and taught her English literature the following year. DPP Uthrapathy said that in June 2012, the accused got engaged to his fiancee and led an overseas school trip, during which the girl confided in him about her family woes and her struggles with her studies.
They exchanged messages on WhatsApp and Facebook which became increasingly personal, before he began engaging her in conversations of a sexual nature.
She even sent him nude pictures at his request. The court heard they had sex eight times - seven of which were unprotected.
Investigations showed that, in September 2012, he took her to his parents' home in Kensington Park. After watching a video together, he hugged her and subsequently kissed and caressed her.
The following month, they had sex in his car at a secluded location in Rifle Range Road and, in November, they did it again at a budget hotel in Lavender.
The teacher married in May last year, yet he had sex with the underage student just two weeks after his wedding.
The court heard that after the girl began the sexual relationship, she became conscious about the way she looked and started to diet.
After he married, she sank into a depression and had suicidal thoughts. She felt angry at herself and started to scratch herself until she bled.
"The victim experienced intense and prolonged psychological distress, feelings of disgust, guilt, shame and self-blame, strong intrusive memories of the acts and poor sleep with nightmares," said DPP Uthrapathy.
She was admitted to hospital last November for suicide risk and medical complications. She was subsequently diagnosed with major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia nervosa.
The offences came to light when she told therapists what had happened and her father lodged a police report on Feb 6.
Five teachers were convicted of having sex with their students last year, which the DPP called "a worrying trend".
The accused's lawyer, Mr Roy Neighbour, said his client had made a serious error of judgment, was deeply remorseful and regretted his actions. He extended his sincerest apologies to the victim and her family.
Community Court Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan postponed sentencing to June 30.
The accused faces up to 10 years and/or a fine for each sex offence. For committing an obscene act, he could be fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to five years.
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.