MORE than 50 former students of a private tutor turned up at the High Court on Friday to support the man hauled up on multiple charges of unnatural sex and acts of gross indecency against five teenage boys.
The group, comprising mostly men in their 20s and 30s, heard Philip Lim Beng Cheok, a mathematics tutor for more than 20 years, plead guilty to 10 counts of sexually abusing the 13 to 15-year-olds at his flat in Ang Mo Kio.
All except one of the 57 charges against him were for committing acts of gross indecency and unnatural sex at his home between December 2000 and July 20 last year. The remaining charge was for having obscene films.
The prosecutor said that the 52-year-old bachelor, who has eight older brothers and a sister, was a homosexual and he had been diagnosed to be suffering from paedophilia.
His lawyer described him as a character-builder with a golden heart.
Two of his victims are now undergoing counselling. One is a 14-year-old, whose experience in his 16 months under Lim was so horrible, said a senior consultant psychiatrist, that he was still angry and hated his stepfather and mother for sending him for tuition.
The psychiatrist added that the other victim, a 16-year-old, had developed a post-traumatic stress disorder: He felt guilty over what had happened and had flashbacks and nightmares of Lim coming to kill him and his parents.
In most cases, Lim masturbated the boys, performed oral sex on them and got them to do the same to him. On one occasion, he got two boys to masturbate each other.
When asked why he carried out such acts, he told the police that it was to “educate” his students about sex and “help” them release their sexual tension.
He used a variety of ways to lure the boys to commit the lewd acts.
Sometimes, a discussion about sex was used as a springboard; on other occasions, he would invite them to his bedroom and undress them.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Imran Abdul Hamid said that the parents of the five boys engaged Lim after hearing that he was a good tutor.
Some students, he added, had lived with him at the flat or stayed over occasionally, usually just before the school examinations, so he could give them extra lessons then.
Lim, he said, was stern and demanding, and punished students if they misbehaved or were disobedient.
The 14-year-old, who was tutored by him from November 2000, moved into Lim's flat in September 2001 after Lim had suggested to the boy's mother that it would be more convenient for her son as his flat was nearer to his school. The boy was abused two months later.
The boy made a police report on July 27 after his school psychologist noticed a significant deterioration in his attitude towards his mother and school work.
But defence counsel Lee Teck Leng painted a glowing picture of Lim in his mitigation plea, citing some of the 87 testimonials from his former students to show that he was not a predatory monster but a man of good character.
He said Lim was an extraordinary and dedicated maths tutor who cared for his students, and had changed many potential juvenile delinquents into good boys and men.
Lee said that the acts were consensual and no threat or force was used.
Justice Woo Bih Li will pass sentence tomorrow. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network