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Pinay’s ex-boss cleared of indecent assault

03 March 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

The elderly employer of a Filipina domestic helper rescued by officers of the Consulate in June last year was acquitted on Feb. 23 of two counts of indecent assault.

Shatin Magistrate Colin Wong found Ong Choon Kwee who is in his ‘60s, not guilty of the charges, saying there were inconsistencies in the evidence given by the alleged victim and another Filipina witness.

The Filipina, referred to as Miss X, had accused Ong of making her touch his private parts and in a separate incident, of touching her breast.

On hearing about her claims, Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre and Consulate staff  Hermogenes Cayabyab Jr, rushed to the employer’s house in Fotan to fetch the Filipina.

The complainant, who is 24 and single, testified that the first incident happened around 3pm on April 30 last year, just two days after she and the second witness arrived from the Philippines to work for Ong and his wife.

She said she was washing the dishes when the man arrived and asked if anyone else was at home. When told that it was just the two of them, he reportedly went up to his study and shortly later called Miss X on the intercom to bring him a lemon tea.

In the study, Ong allegedly asked her to massage his shoulder and his feet, to which she agreed. Miss X said the defendant, who had shed his shorts and left only flimsy briefs on, suddenly grabbed her wrists and laid her hands on his crotch, telling her to massage it. She said that episode lasted about two seconds because he pulled her hands away.

She said the employer offered her $80 to do it, allegedly the same amount he paid in massage parlors, but she left the room, telling him she still had work to do in the kitchen.

Miss X told the second witness, the other Filipina, about the incident when the latter and a third maid, an Indonesian, returned home after fetching the children. She also reported the incident to their employment agency via WhatsApp.

The second incident allegedly happened on May 9 when Ong called Miss X and the other Filipina to the study, purportedly to teach them how to use a rifle to shoot the monkeys in the trees that had been invading his garden.

Ong first called the other Filipina to try the rifle, but she said she already knew how to use it because her policeman-husband had taught her, so the man asked Miss X to try it.

Noticing that her arms fell when she raised the rifle, Ong allegedly stood behind Miss X and helped her hold the gun up while telling her how to squeeze the trigger. But, at the same time, Ong allegedly fondled her breasts for about 2 minutes.

She said she felt “harassed and violated” so she put the gun down and went back downstairs to finish their work.

Miss X also said she messaged the agency about this incident, saying, “Sir did something to me. I’m afraid,” adding that he touched her breasts.

During cross examination, defense counsel Graham Harris, SC, asked Miss X if it was true that she stated in her application that she gave massages as she had taken up massage therapy courses. He then suggested it was her idea to massage Ong, which she denied.

The lawyer pointed to some inconsistencies in the statement of Miss X to police investigators in June last year and in her court evidence.

These included her statement to police that Ong had held her breast for 5 seconds but on the witness stand she said it was 2 minutes.

Harris also said Ong, in his 60s, had a heart condition and prostate cancer.

In his verdict, Magistrate Wong first dismissed the evidence given by the second witness, Bernadeth, saying they had no value to the case.

Wong then said he found “minor inconsistencies” between Miss X’s evidence in court and the statement she gave investigators.

He also said the third witness, the agency staff to whom Miss X claimed to have reported the first incident, testified that it was only the second incident that Miss X reported to the agency.
Wong also said in the massage incident, the witness was not consistent on the duration of when Ong  placed her hands on his crotch.

In the second incident, Wong said he did not doubt Miss X’s evidence, but the defendant might have also told the truth when he said he could have accidentally touched the Filipina’s breast while teaching her how to hold the rifle.

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