“Uncle Wong” came so highly recommended – by his pastor, no less – that he was hired by a student care centre on the spot.
He worked as a guardian at the centre, located at a primary school, for three years, and was popular with the students. He helped the boys with their homework and bought them sweets.
He also molested them.
The disgraced guardian was sentenced to 10 years’ jail on Wednesday (Feb 22) after a 14-day trial. He was found guilty of 13 counts of sexual assault involving eight boys aged between eight and 11. The charges include 11 for molest, and two for giving and receiving oral sex from an 11-year-old boy.
The 66-year-old man had sexually abused the boys for three years, with his colleagues and his pastor none the wiser.
“Instead of guarding and protecting them, you took advantage of them,” District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim said, calling the man a “predator”.
The abuse came to light by chance. On Sep 13, 2013, two students and another guardian witnessed Wong slipping his hand under the table to touch a 10-year-old boy’s penis.
The guardian reported him to the centre’s supervisor, who reported him to the human resources manager, and a decision was made to suspend Wong immediately.
That night, the HR manager sent him a text message: “I received a very serious complaint about you today … I want you to meet me in church on Monday. You will be under immediate suspension from work … an investigation (will be) carried out.”
Wong responded more than an hour later: “Can’t … figure out what went wrong or (what) the complaint is about, so will just have to assure my heart before God.”
Then he called three of his victims to tell them the student care centre was investigating him, and not to tell anyone he had molested them. This showed he had “absolutely no remorse”, Judge Hamidah said.
Three days later, the HR manager visited the centre to speak to three boys who claimed they had been molested by Wong. She quickly realised there were many more victims involved, and made a police report the same day.
At his trial, the woman testified she hired Wong, who worked at the centre from January 2011 until September 2013, without interviewing him first. His was “a unique case”, she said, because he had come “recommended by his pastor, (who said) he was good with children and youths”.
Even his victims, who testified against him, had nothing damning to say.
One victim said Wong was a “caring teacher” who took the boys to church and bought them “ice pops and sweets”. Another victim said he was “friendly, kind and very patient” when helping the boys with their homework.
The man plans to appeal his conviction and sentence, his lawyer said. He is out on bail – set at S$100,000 – pending the hearing of his appeal.
A further eight charges against him, which involved more victims, were withdrawn.