Tourist jailed for molest offences in hostels

SINGAPORE - An American tourist was sentenced to nine months in jail on Wednesday for insulting and outraging the modesty of five women at backpacker hostels.

Michael Sylvester Williams Jr, 24, preyed on his victims at four hostels between April and June while on a 90-day social visit pass to the Republic.

Court documents showed that, among five charges, Williams used his mobile phone to film a 23-year-old Chinese woman taking a shower on May 19. Williams had put his phone on top of the partition wall dividing an adjoining cubicle.

The victim immediately exited the cubicle upon noticing the phone and kicked open the door to the adjacent cubicle. She found Williams climbing down from the partition while holding the phone. When asked what he was up to, Williams denied doing anything.

Three weeks later, in June, Williams struck again. In the wee hours of the morning at another hostel in Geylang, he lifted a blanket covering a 29-year-old Singaporean woman and stroked her buttocks as she slept.

The Singaporean had hung blankets to cover the lower bunk of the bed she was on for privacy, but Williams lifted them and stood beside her. He had been staying on a bed on the opposite side of the room.

When she confronted him, he claimed he was looking for his charger.

The victim did not report the case until another woman, a 26-year-old Polish national sharing the same room, told her that Williams had also pulled her blanket and stroked her back while she was sleeping on June 13.

When confronted by the Polish victim and her boyfriend, Williams claimed again that he had been looking for his charger before running out of the room.

Lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu told The Straits Times that Williams had declined to be legally represented as he wanted to complete his sentence and return to his wife and two children in the Philippines.

He had been in remand since June 29.

Prosecution proceeded with three charges and took the other two into consideration.

Mr Singh said he was present to conduct a "watching brief" for the US Embassy.

The lawyer added he had been told by the embassy earlier on that Williams "may have a mental condition that might affect his plea", and the court had been informed about this.

But a check by the Institute of Mental Health found Williams "fit to plead", Mr Singh added.

He said he was "glad Williams was spared caning", and added that the latter had "apologised to Singapore and to his victims" and felt remorse for what he had done.

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