As a social work associate, he was supposed to help underprivileged families.
Instead, Veerasamy Marimuthu, 53, abused his position of authority and tried to molest a beneficiary.
He was yesterday jailed for four months after pleading guilty to one charge of using criminal force to outrage her modesty on Jan 6. A similar charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that as part of his work for the Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre (AMKFSC), Veerasamy helped in supporting families living under the interim rental housing scheme and would visit them.
His main work as a social work associate was to visit new families in the neighbourhood to check if they need any help from AMKFSC.
According to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), unlike full fledged social workers, social work associates and assistants are not accredited.
On Jan 5 at about 3.30pm, Veerasamy went to the rental home of a beneficiary where he touched her hand.
The 39-year-old, who is married with two children, had been receiving assistance from the FSC in the form of food rations. She cannot be named because of a gag order protecting her identity.
The next day, Veerasamy went back to the woman's home at 8.30am with roti prata and offered it to her from outside the flat.
When she refused to take the food, he asked her to let him into the flat on the pretext of discussing her children's school needs.
The woman, a housewife, let him in and they sat on the sofa to chat.
After a while, Veerasamy held the woman's hand and started stroking her back with his other hand.
The victim could feel him touching her bra clasp but was too shocked to do anything.
Veerasamy asked why she did not allow him to kiss her and why she was refusing everything.
All the victim could say was: "Don't want."
He tried to kiss her but his kiss landed on her shoulder when she dodged his attempts.
Veerasamy told her he should be allowed to hug her even if she did not want him kissing her. He then hugged her from the front before telling her to meet him at AMKFSC at noon to talk about her family's food rations.
She did not attend the meeting.
Two days later, the woman told a counsellor at the FSC about the incident. She also told her husband and broke down.
For the offence, Veerasamy, who is married with no children, could have been jailed for up to two years and fined.
Responding to media queries about the case, an MSF spokesman noted that all social service agencies have guidelines on how their staff should interact with clients.
"The professionals usually conduct home visits in pairs. They are also required to report the purpose and details of the visit to their supervisors prior to the home visit," she said.
This article was first published on July 7, 2015.
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