SINGAPORE – A former National University of Singapore (NUS) senior psychology lecturer fled to Malaysia after molesting five teenage boys at a school camp and was on the run for 17 years before he was sent back here in December 2016.
After a trial, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan on Monday (July 22) found Chan Cheng, now 59, guilty of five counts of molestation.
Seven other molestation charges involving four boys are still pending.
The teenagers were in Secondary 1 when Chan molested them at the Guillemard Camp in Old Airport Road during a three-day school camp in June 1999.
Chan failed to turn up in court on Nov 29 that year and a warrant of arrest was issued against him.
The former president of the Singapore Psychological Society later had his contract terminated by NUS after he failed to turn up for work.
Chan was reported to have had his own company, known as Procamps, to teach study skills to youngsters. He also organised camps for children during school holidays.
During his trial, the court heard that he molested one of the boys in full view of the teenager’s friend during the school camp.
The boy’s schoolmate testified that he was resting on the upper bunk of a bed with the alleged victim sitting nearby when the former don committed the offence.
The witness, now a 33-year-old technician, told the court that he heard Chan asking his friend if he was in any pain before massaging the boy’s thighs.
The man added: “Dr Chan continued to massage upwards until (he touched my friend’s) private parts… He was rubbing in a circular manner. (My friend) was shocked. His eyes went big.”
The technician testified that he was shocked when he saw Chan touching his friend. Despite this, he did not tell anyone about what he had seen as he thought that it was “not that serious”.
When the camp ended, the witness recalled a teacher asking students if they had either been molested or seen their friends being touched in an inappropriate manner. However, he could not remember details about such exchanges.
Chan, who obtained his PhD from Oxford University, was last seen at NUS on Nov 23, 1999.
On Monday, DPP Chew said that the former lecturer has a history of absconding and urged Judge Shaiffudin to revoke his bail.
The DPP added: “The presumption of innocence no longer applies.”
Defence lawyer Ramesh Tiwary pleaded for his client to be given bail, saying that Chan had been turning up in court “punctually every single time” for the last two years.
Judge Shaiffudin allowed Chan to be released on bail, with an added condition that the former lecturer must report to the investigation officer every day.
Chan is now out on bail of $60,000 and is due back in court on July 29.
For each count of molestation, offenders can be jailed for up to two years and fined or caned. Chan cannot be caned as he is over 50.