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83-year-old retired British doctor guilty of indecent assault on Filipina helper

02 July 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

The verdict against the octogenarian doctor was announced at Eastern Court

Stooped but still sprightly and mobile, 83-year-old retired British doctor Brian Drew Apthorp was taken into custody earlier today, Jul 2, after an Eastern Court magistrate found him guilty of two counts of indecent assault against her former Filipina domestic worker, identified in court as X.

The two charges which involved a slew of sordid sexual assaults, happened while X was under Apthorp’s employ, from September 2018 to April 2019.

The defendant, said to be a multi-awarded doctor as well as book author, was led away by police on orders of Magistrate Daniel Tang, who set the sentencing on Jul 15, pending the submission of background and psychological reports on Apthorp.


Defense counsel Jonathan Midgely tried to stop Apthorp being remanded in custody, saying he would be at risk if he was put in jail because of his age and heart condition, but the magistrate was not dissuaded.

Magistrate Tang said that first, the case should have been tried in “a different court”, indicating that it was actually too serious to have been brought before the magistracy; and second, he was looking at a sentence of more than a year.

But at Midgley’s request, the magistrate ordered that the Correctional Services Department make special arrangements for the defendant, “given his age and health condition.”

The defense counsel said he would apply for bail pending appeal once the sentence is handed down.

One of the books written by Dr Apthorp, known as a pioneer in primary health care 

Interviewed over the telephone, X said she was happy that she was vindicated, especially since some of the Filipina workers who had worked for Apthorp before her, had viciously accused her on social media of being after the employer’s money.

Natutuwa po ako na naipaglaban ko hindi lang ang aking sarili, kundi pati na rin ang ibang nauna sa akin na nagdusa din. Sana hindi na siya (Apthorp) payagang makakuha muli ng domestic helper,” she said.

Call now!

(I am happy that I was able to fight, not just for myself, but for all the ones who came before me and suffered as well. I hope he would not be allowed to hire another domestic helper).

On being told how shocked Apthorp had looked while being led away by the police, X, who has a partner and a child back in Laguna province, said it could just be play-acting.

However, she added: “Naaawa din ako ng bahagya dahil ikukulong siya kahit matanda na siya, pero dapat niyang papanagutan ang mga kasalanang ginawa niya.”

Pindutin para sa detalye

(I feel a bit sorry for him because he will go to jail despite his advanced age, but he should pay for all the sins that he committed).

Human rights lawyers helping X have filed an application for judicial review to question the police’s decision not to treat the sexual assaults as a human trafficking case.

In the first charge, Apthorp was convicted of indecently assaulting X in September 2018 in a bedroom in his house at 35 Shouson Hill Road, in the guise of conducting a body check-up on her prior to her being employed.


The employer told X to lay on a bed, then pushed up her shirt and squeezed her breasts. He then pulled down the helper’s shorts and while pretending to conduct a pap smear, inserted his fingers into her genitals.

X fled the room after that. But when she told a co-worker, Janice, about what happened, the other helper assured X that it was a routine check-up which Athorp, a doctor, conducts on all his would-be employees.

The second charge covered several acts of indecent assaults stretched over a five-month period, from November 2018 to April 2019. During this time, X was ordered to give Apthorp daily body massages, front and back, while he was stark naked.

During these massage sessions the octogenarian would order X to pinch his nipples while squeezing his genitals so he could get sexually aroused.

In her two-day testimony in court last Mar 4 and 5, X also spoke of a “whipping Thursday,” when the elderly employer would order her to use different kinds of whips on various parts of his body, including a riding crop which he wanted used on his nipples and genitals.

In his verdict, Magistrate Tang said he found X to be a credible and honest witness. Since Apthorp chose not to give evidence to defend himself, there was no way to gauge his credibility in the same way.

As for the supposed body check-up, Tang said “it was obvious that X did not give consent. She was misled by the defendant.”

On the other hand, Apthorp, being a doctor, should have known that what he did was not a proper examination as there was no one else inside the room with them and he did not get her prior consent. The body check was also not part of their employment contract.

Any right-minded person would have come to the same conclusion, said the magistrate.

Shouson Hill Road, where Apthorp lives 

As for the series of assaults that happened in the last six months of X’s stay in Apthorp’s house, Tang said the helper was able to substantiate her allegation with a video recording she took of one of the massage sessions where the doctor appeared to have grabbed her hand and put it into his groin.

Though the video did not contain the alleged masturbation she had spoken about, the magistrate said it was enough to support her claim. Tang accepted that the video was inadvertently cut short when X sent it to a friend for safekeeping before deleting it from her own phone.

Tang also said it was understandable why X did not immediately seek help when Apthorp started the sexual assaults. She was suffering from mental stress because she did not want to lose her job and cut off her family financially.

“I find it logical and reasonable in her condition at the time. Being a mother, she had to work in Hong Kong to support her family. She also trusted Janice,” said the magistrate.

Finally, he dismissed suggestions that X was out to extort money from her rich elderly employer. Tam said the $69,039.06 claim in the Equal Opportunities Commission case that she filed against Apthorp was reasonable.

Further, her demand for an apology in the case showed she was not just after the money, said Tang.

“If it was only money she was after, she would not have asked for an apology,” he said.
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