By Elena Chong
SHE was a teacher in his primary school, and it was during an overseas trip which she led that trouble began.
While on that trip, the married teacher and her young charge, then 14 and in Primary 6, struck up a friendship.
They kept it up after the trip, and stayed in touch with each other through frequent phone calls and SMS texting.
The friendship continued developing, and before long, the woman declared the boy her godson and began showering him with care and attention.
Even after he left the school to go on to Secondary 1, they continued to meet, going window shopping, watching movies and having meals together.
Before long, the boy told the woman that he had fallen for her, and she responded by saying that she would be his girlfriend.
She then began booking rooms at a Pasir Ris chalet to spend private time with him, and he was 15 when they eventually wound up having sex.
Yesterday, in the first case of its kind here, the mother of two young children who is in her early thirties pleaded guilty to having sex with an underage boy.
The court heard that after the first encounter, the pair had sex five more times, either at the chalet or at her home.
Then the woman decided to end the liaison, and that eventually led to the exposure of the illicit affair: Angered by her move, the boy threatened to kill her and her family, and she went to the police and spilled the beans.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Royce Wee told the court yesterday that the woman had agreed to be the boy's girlfriend after he confessed his feelings for her.
The DPP said the two first discussed having sex at the Pasir Ris chalet, and the woman asked the boy to buy condoms.
When he said he was too young to do so, she bought them and they had sex for the first time last March 10.
But after a few more sex sessions over the following weeks, she began to feel that the boy had become 'overly possessive and temperamental', the DPP said.
She felt that she could not manage him, and began to regret their relationship.
But when she tried to end the affair, he refused.
When she insisted and began to ignore his calls and text messages, he threatened to kill her and her family members.
Afraid of what might happen, she decided to come clean. She confided in a school counsellor on May 15 and lodged a police report the next day, owning up to her crime.
Pleading for leniency, Senior Counsel Sant Singh said his client, now unemployed, faced considerable pressure at work and at home when she had sex with the boy.
He said her husband worked long hours and his grassroots activities kept him away from home.
Mr Singh pointed out that it was his client who wanted to end the relationship as she realised that it was inappropriate.
He said she was deeply remorseful and was now suffering from depression.
The slim, bespectacled woman was seen wiping away tears with a piece of tissue paper while her lawyer delivered her mitigation plea.
Mr Singh said her chances of working in any school after her conviction would be almost zero, and it was unlikely that she would offend again.
'Her reputation and family life has been ruined by her wrongdoing, and she has been forced to give up her career as a teacher, a profession in which she has excelled,' he said.
DPP Amarjit Singh urged the court to impose an appropriate sentence.
He said the new law - Section 376A(1) and (2) - did not distinguish between male and female accused.
'The sentence prescribed applies to both,' he added.
He told the court that since it was enacted a year ago, two men had been sentenced separately to 16 months and 15 months for similar offences.
District Judge Sarjit Singh will pass sentence on Feb 23.
[Well, every guy who reads this is secretly (or openly) screaming, "where the hell were these teachers when I was in school?!?" But I can't help feeling a mix of pity and exasperation with this woman. All we have heard is her side of the story, so how much of it is true is also questionable. Perhaps if the full story were revealed, exasperation would turn to anger and disgust. In any case she has behaved abominably and irresponsibly. As a teacher she had a duty to guide the development of her charges, not use and abuse them to satisfy her needs and fill the emptiness in her life. Still, I don't think it is fair for her to be treated like men who sexually exploit underage girls. ]