Doctor acquitted of molest: AGC will not take action against complainant

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Attorney-General's Chambers (FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)
Attorney-General's Chambers (FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) will not be taking any action against a complainant who was said to have lied during her trial against a doctor accused of molesting her. 

The AGC has also asked the doctor Yeo Sow Nam's lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam to explain his conduct for issuing a public statement that was "misleading and regrettable", it said in a statement issued to the media on Tuesday (31 August). 

Yeo, an anaesthesiologist, was acquitted on 16 August after the prosecution withdrew charges against him. He had claimed trial to charges of molesting the woman at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Orchard on 9 October 2017. 

His lawyers – Eugene Thuraisingam, Chooi Jing Yen, and Johannes Hadi – had pointed out to the court that the woman had agreed during her trial that she had given false evidence.

Referring to parts of the trial transcript, Thuraisingam pointed out that the woman also confessed before the court that she had "no qualms" about lying when it was in her advantage or self-interest to do so.

The AGC said in its statement, however, that there was no evidence to state that the complainant had fabricated her account of events regarding the alleged molest.

"The inconsistencies in the complainant’s evidence did not, in the main, relate to the substance of her allegations against Dr Yeo for outrage of modesty," said the AGC. 

While there were some inconsistencies with regard to the complainant's evidence in court during the trial in March 2021, most of these did not involve the complainant’s account of events, the AGC noted.

"Nevertheless, the prosecution assessed that the inconsistencies, taken as a whole, would likely affect the assessment of the complainant’s overall evidence. There was a risk that the complainant might not meet the high threshold set in such cases, of showing that she was unusually convincing," the AGC said. 

This was the reason why the prosecution decided to withdraw the charges against Dr Yeo. 

The prosecution did not decide to withdraw the charges on the basis that the complainant had been untruthful about the alleged molest, the AGC said. In addition, the court had not made a finding that the complainant had lied or given inconsistent evidence, it added. 

A case for giving false evidence is unlikely to be made out for the complainant, said the AGC. 

AGC asks Thuraisingam to explain conduct

AGC also pointed to several aspects of Thuraisingam's public statement, which were "misleading and regrettable". 

It said that the complainant had specifically denied the defence's accusations that she had lied and fabricated the alleged acts of molest in respect of all the charges against Yeo. 

With respect to the charge that Dr Yeo had squeezed her waist, while the complainant was not consistent and clear as to whether she was seated or standing at the time of the alleged incident, she still disagreed with the lawyers who accused her of fabricating the incident.

The AGC also pointed out that though Thuraisingam used the court process to advance similar allegations against the complainant in applying for the gag order to be lifted, the lawyer changed his position and withdrew his application before the court could rule on the allegations. 

The day that Yeo's charges were withdrawn, Thuraisingam argued for the gag order to be lifted, accusing the complainant of being a liar. However, he later "suddenly agreed" with the prosecution that there was no basis to lift the gag order, said the AGC. 

Thuraisingam had said the defence reserved the right to apply to lift the gag order should the woman be charged in court for giving false evidence.

"AGC has written to Mr Thuraisingam asking for an explanation of his conduct set out above, as an officer of the court," it said. 

Thuraisingam's response

In response to queries from Yahoo News Singapore, Thuraisingam refuted the AGC’s statement on Tuesday night, citing several instances of the complainant’s admissions.

For example, the complainant testified that Dr Yeo touched her breasts with his palms facing outwards. 

"She later agreed under cross-examination that it was impossible for Dr Yeo to have done so as he was standing behind her," Thuraisingam said.

"She admitted that when she told the Court that she remembered Dr Yeo resting his hand on her hip, she was telling a lie.... She also admitted that she had lied so many times that she could not remember when she was telling the truth and when she was lying," he added.

On the application to lift the gag order, the lawyer reiterated his firm made it clear to the court that Dr Yeo reserved his right to do so in the event that the prosecution were to bring charges against the complainant for telling the lies in the case.

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In a separate post on his Facebook page, Thuraisingam said, “Attorney-General’s Chambers have also threatened me with disciplinary action as they say I abused the court’s process by taking the court through the complainant’s lies but yet withdrew Dr Yeo’s application to lift the gag order on the complainant’s identity.”

He said that without giving him any time to respond, the AGC released its allegations against him to the media and articles have been published without his response.

Thuraisingam noted that with the “significant omission” by the AGC in its media statement of him reserving Dr Yeo’s rights to bring a fresh application, it gives the impression that the lawyer had no reason to bring the court through the complainant’s lies during the case hearing.

“I respectfully believe that it is unfair of AGC to give only part of the facts to the press without giving me the chance to present the full picture,” Thuraisingam said.

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