Updated Apr 20, 2019:
Frustrated with the inadequate response by her school and the police, a National University of Singapore (NUS) undergrad chronicled her experience of being filmed in the shower by a fellow NUS student on her personal Instagram account.
The victim claimed that the school “wants to keep it quiet”. Observer+ understands that a police report was filed and the perpetrator let off with a 12-month conditional warning by the police.
In defence, the offender claims he was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
What and where?
Third-year NUS undergrad Monica Baey (@monicabaey), 23, posted on her Instastories today (Apr 19) of the incident which happened at Eusoff Hall, NUS, in November last year.
According to her account of the incident, she was taking a late-night shower in her hostel bathroom when she saw a mobile phone peeking from below the cubicle door.
Before she could react, the phone disappeared and she heard whoever it was filming her dash out of the bathroom.
The alleged peeping tom is understood to be one Nicholas Lim, an undergrad majoring in Chemical Engineering.
Victim frustrated with NUS and police’s perceived inaction
In a pointed jab at NUS and the authorities, Monica said offences like voyeurism repeatedly occur and the offenders ‘keep getting away with it’ because only a warning is given and NUS ‘wants to keep it quiet’.
“The point of [my post] is I want some real change in NUS … I want real consequences for perpetrators that commit such acts,” she wrote.
According to Monica, she had the school’s CCTV footage of Nicholas ‘trying to enter different toilets to find his victim’, including the actual video of her in the shower.
Despite the evidence, Monica claimed Nicholas was let off with a 12-month conditional warning – which is a discharge not amounting to an acquittal. When she tried to appeal, the investigating officer (IO) allegedly said, “You just have to accept the outcome.”
Referring to the warning given, Monica asked why punishment is only meted out if the perpetrator reoffends?
She said: “Do I get a second chance too? Can (you) fucking go back in time and un-film me bathing? manually remove the fkin trauma from my brain? thanks.”
“What I want is for NUS to address the number of these incidents that have occurred, negotiate a fair set of sanctions where the perpetrator is actually reprimanded, through expulsion, community service, re-education et cetera.
“I don’t think I am in a place to demand that all perpetrators to get expelled from the school and that is not my goal either. But I would want to see NUS provide a set of visible consequences for anyone who commits any sexual misappropriation acts again,” she said.
What was the action undertaken by NUS?
Nicholas was made to draft out a ‘compulsory apology letter’ by NUS. The letter was sent to her by Esther Tan, associate director & head of NUS Student Conduct Unit (Registrar’s Office).
According to the letter, NUS meted out ‘sanctions’ against Nicholas.
Responding to Observer+ queries today, Monica revealed NUS took the following actions:
- Banned from entering halls and on-campus residences
- Suspension from school for 1 semester
- A compulsory apology letter and counseling
Here’s the apology letter:
I am Nicholas, and I am writing this letter to formally apologise for my vile and inappropriate action that happened in Eusoff Hall, on the final week of November and being on heavy alcoholic influence is no excuse at all. I am extremely ashamed of what I have done and I am so sorry to have traumatised you in such a manner, nobody should ever have to go through such a traumatic experience. I want to assure you that this will never happen to anyone else again, and I know actions speak louder than words. This incident has taught me an invaluable lesson and I will strive to be the best version of myself from here on. Of course I hope to seek your forgiveness, but I understand that I am in no position to ask for anything and you have no obligation to even give me any form of closure. But I still want you to know that I am really sorry to have committed such an offence. I will be serving the sanctions mete out by the unversity while bearing in mind to only improve as a person from here.
To which an exasperated Monica then sarcastically commented, “i am glad that you filming me showering has taught u (sic) an invaluable lesson and made u a better person.”
Monica also said a university staff member had explained its treatment of the perpetrator and that suspension was a serious matter. But Monica said she did not buy the explanation and the man’s apology as “he got away scot-free, with just a slap on the wrist”.
One tried to intimidate the victim into silence
What is a conditional warning?
A conditional warning is usually served on accused persons who have never been convicted of an offence before.
The warning does not amount to an acquittal which means that the accused can be charged for the original offence if he commits another crime within a time period – in this case, it’s 12 months.
A warning is not a criminal conviction but the victim can sue the accused in the civil court – eg. causing emotional distress.
Crime falls under the law on insult of modesty – Section 509 of the Penal Code
Currently, the law sets out that anyone “intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture … or intrudes upon the privacy” of a woman faces up to a year in jail and a fine.
Sexual misconduct cases not uncommon according to past cases in NUS
Three PDF documents detailing a comprehensive list of offences from 2015 to 2018 shines light on the consideration given in the cases, and the penalties meted out.
There were at least 25 cases involving insult or outrage to a victim’s modesty in NUS from 2015 to 2018.
In one case, a NUS student entered a children’s toilet and filmed children in the adjacent cubicle on multiple occasions.
Interestingly, if the victims involved male students, it is less likely that police reports will be made.
In a separate case: NUS student reoffends after receiving a conditional warning
In July 2018, a NUS student was jailed for nine months and received three strokes of the cane for peeping at a woman in a hostel shower and molesting his classmate in a computer laboratory on the school campus.
The student was given a conditional warning over this incident in February 2017, but just a few months later, he molested another woman.
NUS said of the case at the time:
“The university takes a serious view of any misconduct by our students. The student concerned is currently serving a candidature suspension, during which he is mandated to seek psychiatric treatment.”
“Security measures are also in place to protect the safety and well-being of our students on our campuses.”
NUS has responded to the Monica Baey incident. Read here.