BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – A local teacher has been sentenced to six years in prison and three strokes of the cane, after he was convicted of molesting three of his female students at a primary school in the capital.

The defendant — whose name has been withheld to protect the identity of the minor victims — pleaded not guilty to three charges of using criminal force to outrage the modesty of the girls, who were aged between 10 and 11 years at the time the incidents took place in 2014.

After a trial in which all three accusers testified before the court, Judge Pg Masni Pg Hj Bahar found the defendant, 36, guilty on December 9, later sentencing him to six years in jail and three strokes for each charge, but ordering the sentences to concurrently.

“Outraging modesty of a student is an infringement of one’s body. The victims in this case involves minors of tender age. This is a serious offence which warrants an upper level of sentencing,” she said in her written judgment.

On Monday, the Attorney General’s Chambers released court documents outlining the facts of the case, which describe how the defendant, a married father of two, abused his position of trust and authority to molest students on school property.

The first victim, Miss X, was asked by the defendant, her science teacher, to stay back after class, saying he wanted to conduct a “science experiment” on her. After dismissing the other students, he pulled down the victim’s skirt and underwear, took a measuring tape to “measure” her waistline and used a marker pen to trace the outline of her genitals.

The defendant used a similar modus operandi with his other victims.

Miss Y, who was in Primary 3 when the incident occurred, recalled how the teacher asked her to stay behind after class and pull down her school uniform so he could “measure” her private parts.

The third incident, and perhaps the most egregious, took place when the defendant asked one of his students, Miss Z, to stay after class to draw parts of the human anatomy they were studying in science class. He then asked her to remove her pants so he could “measure” her legs, later forcing his fingers inside her genitals.

The defendant’s year-long pattern of assault only came to light after Miss Z told a friend what happened to her on the day of the incident, which was then reported to a teacher.

The school soon investigated the matter and forwarded the complaint to the authorities.

During trial, the accused maintained that measuring body parts were part of teaching guidelines for learning human anatomy — a point later disproven by the prosecution — and that he regularly concocted games and experiments for his students.

During his mitigation before the court last week, the defendant said he regretted what he did, asking the judge for leniency because he had a family to support and had no previous criminal record.

However, the Judge Pg Masni found that the aggravating factors in the case — the victims’ age and his position as their teacher — outweighed any mitigation out forward by the defendant, saying that a deterrent sentence was “imperative to deter sexual predators”.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Public Prosecutor Siti Nurjauinah Hj Kula, while the defence was represented by Sheikh Noordin.

Editor’s note: The name and location of the school have been withheld to protect victims’ privacy.