During a weekend tuition class, a teacher asked one of the pupils to go to the back of the classroom to do some reading.
There, he made the eight-year-old girl stand next to him and touched her private parts through her underwear - while the other pupils continued with their work, oblivious to what was happening.
Yesterday, the former primary school teacher, 27, was sentenced to one year in jail and three strokes of the cane, after pleading guilty to molesting the child on Oct 19 last year.
The court heard that the incident took place between 9.15am and 12.15pm, when the girl was attending a weekly tuition class at a primary school in Jurong.
The girl was initially too scared to say what had happened. She finally told her mother about two weeks later, when asked why she did not want to continue attending the class.
Her mother made a police report the next day.
It is understood that the offender, then employed by the Education Ministry, conducted the classes in addition to his regular teaching duties, under a scheme run by a self-help group.
Handing down the sentence yesterday, District Judge Tan Boon Heng considered factors such as the victim's "tender" age and that the offender was a qualified MOE teacher at the time.
He said that a stiff sentence was required not only to deter both the man and like-minded people from committing such offences but also to rehabilitate him, given his relatively youthful age.
The judge ordered that the jail term should start on Aug 19 after the offender asked for time to settle personal matters.
Asking the court not to impose a heavy penalty on his client, lawyer Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed said the man regrets his actions and apologises to the girl and her parents.
He added that his client, who will have to pay damages to the Education Ministry over the premature termination of his bond, has to support his widowed mother, as his three older siblings are married with commitments of their own.
For outraging the modesty of a person under the age of 14, the former teacher could have been jailed for up to five years, caned and fined.
He cannot be named to protect the identity of the girl, who is under 16.
This article was first published on August 6, 2014.
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