Under the pretext of giving a customer a massage, a 35-year-old male masseur seized the opportunity to molest the female customer, repeatedly rubbing her breasts.
The victim, a Japanese national, had visited Zufu Foot Reflexology’s outlet at Beach Road- where the offender, Hu Xidong, worked- and requested for a foot and upper back massage on July 19, 2016.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Eunice Lau told the court that having been a repeated customer, it was, however, the first time the victim had asked for an upper back massage and she was not sure of the procedure involved.
After massaging her feet for about 40 minutes, Hu directed her to go to a massage bed in a separate, curtained area. With past experiences at other massage centres, the victim went to the area and executed the standard procedures, which involved her removing her clothing, leaving only her underwear on.
She then laid face-down on the massage bed and placed a towel over the back of her body, covering herself from her shoulder blades to her buttocks in preparation for the massage.
Hu initiated his act at some point during the massage where he removed her towel, pulled her underwear down while continuing to massage her.
DPP Lau stated that her client did not know how to react as she was not sure if what he did was out of the ordinary.
The victim flipped over as instructed by Hu, making sure to cover herself with the towel and have it tucked under her arms.
However, after massaging her head and shoulder for a few moments, he suddenly removed the towel, and rubbed her breasts for at least a minute. DPP Lau added that her client was too panicked and shocked to react while she knew that the massage did not entail his actions.
Right after her session, the victim attempted to inform the receptionist about her ordeal in English, only to be hit with a communication barrier- where the receptionist could not understand the language.
After discussing the incident with her roommates, the victim then made a police report later that night.
DPP Lau argued for her client that the incident displayed an “abuse of trust in a customer-masseur relationship”, as the victim was in a situation where it was “difficult…to discern ill intentions”.
Hu’s defense lawyer, Julian Lim, defended his client by claiming that he who suffers from an anxiety disorder and had been “distracted and inattentive” during the session had mistakenly believed that the woman had requested a full body massage, and absent-mindedly acted as such, adding that the victim had also not expressed her discomfort throughout the session.
However, District Judge Kenneth Yap dismissed the defence statement, stating that being anxious and stressed did not give Hu a licence to, in the defence laywer’s words, “absent-mindedly molest people”. He also noted that a psychiatrist could not associate Hu’s condition with his actions.
Hu Xidong was sentenced to nine months’ jail and three strokes of the cane for outraging the modesty of the 28-year-old woman. Two other charges for outrage of modesty were also taken into consideration during sentencing.
For outraging the woman’s modesty, he could have faced up to two years’ jail, a fine, caning, or a combination of the three.