SINGAPORE: A mathematics tutor who physically abused her 12-year-old pupil, pulling his ear and pinching his thighs, was sentenced to four weeks’ jail on Tuesday (Oct 1).
The 51-year-old woman pleaded guilty to two charges of voluntarily causing hurt to the boy, with a third charge taken into consideration for sentencing.
The tutor cannot be named due to a gag order preventing the publication of anything that could identify the victim.
The part-time tutor was hired by the victim’s mother in April 2017 to tutor her son in mathematics.
He attended two group evening classes at the tutor’s home each week.
The court heard that on Aug 15, 2017, the woman knocked the boy on his head multiple times with her knuckles.
She also pulled and twisted his left ear, causing him to feel pain, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Andrew Low.
When he returned home crying, his mother noticed bruising and swelling on his head.
She sent a text to the tutor, who admitted that she had hit the boy with her knuckles for making mistakes and getting the wrong answers to certain questions.
MOTHER TELLS TUTOR NOT TO DO IT AGAIN
The boy’s mother told the tutor not to repeat those actions, and to inform her instead so she could discipline her son accordingly.
The tutor agreed, and the boy’s mother decided to allow her son to continue his tuition lessons as his examinations were approaching and she believed the incident would not happen again.
Three days later on Aug 18 2017, however, the tutor pinched the boy’s thigh repeatedly after he made a mistake in a math question.
When the boy tried to move away, she pinched his thighs again and held onto them, the court heard.
On the way home from the lesson, the boy found fingernail marks on his arm, along with bruises and slight bleeding on his thighs.
He told his father, who took photos of the injuries and informed his wife. The boy’s mother filed a police report the next day.
BOY DEVELOPED FEAR OF TUITION
A doctor who examined the boy found bruises and scabs on his thighs and scabs over his forearm, among other injuries.
A report from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital found that the victim had shown some symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
He was also examined by a doctor from the Institute of Mental Health, who said the boy had developed a fear of going for private tuition, and had nightmares of the accused scolding and hitting him.
The prosecution had asked for four weeks’ jail, saying the woman had abused her position of authority as the boy’s tutor.
The bruises were fairly large, said the prosecutor, and there was some psychological distress.
The woman had also been sentenced to jail in 1999 for voluntarily causing hurt.
Defence lawyer Gino Hardial Singh asked instead for a mandatory treatment order or not more than three weeks’ jail, saying his client was suffering from major depressive disorder at the time of the offences.
TUTOR SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION, GRIEF AND TRAUMA: LAWYER
Her mother had died in July 2017, and the offences were “highly out of character” for her, said the lawyer.
She was suffering from “severe grief and trauma” at the time, and continues to suffer from this and is seeking treatment at a hospital for her conditions.
“(The accused) has seen her father, brother and mother pass away from cancer,” said the lawyer. “As a registered nurse, (she) was placed under intense pressure from her family to care for her father, brother and mother.”
She could not cope when she lost her mother to colon cancer, said the lawyer.
“During this period, (she) slept very poorly and was also tutoring intensively,” he said.
He added that none of the woman’s other students has reported such actions from her, saying that many of them have “attested to her caring nature and her dedication to teaching”.
The judge granted the woman’s application to defer her sentence to Oct 29.
For each charge of voluntarily causing hurt, she could have been sentenced to jail for up to two years, fined S$5,000, or both.
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