TCM practitioner on trial for molesting patient under guise of improving her ‘qi’

Singapore
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SINGAPORE: After gaining a customer’s trust with an effective cough treatment, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner allegedly molested her and made her perform a sex act on herself.

During the consultation, 74-year-old Lim Ah Bah also allegedly insulted the 39-year-old woman’s modesty by asking her to have more sex with her boyfriend to “improve blood circulation”, a court heard at the opening of the trial on Monday (Oct 26).

Lim is contesting four charges of outraging the victim’s modesty and insulting her modesty two years ago. He is accused of performing two sexual acts on the woman during a treatment session at a TCM clinic in central Singapore. 

He also allegedly insulted the woman’s modesty by asking her to apply lubricant gel on herself and suggesting that her boyfriend could perform a sex act on her for “better blood circulation”.

The prosecution’s case is that Lim abused his position as a TCM practitioner “to gratify his lust on the victim” by perpetuating the four acts under the guise of legitimate treatment to improve the victim’s “qi”, or circulation.

Initially, the victim was “taken in”, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Claire Poh, but she decided a day after the treatment on Oct 1, 2018, to confront Lim and ask if he had taken advantage of her.

The victim, who is now 42 and whose identity is protected by gag order, took the stand as the first witness for the prosecution on Monday and described what happened.

She explained that she had gone to see Lim at the TCM clinic for a cough on Sep 24, 2018, where he performed “tuina” or massage on her upper body.

ODD QUESTIONING

Even though the woman noted that Lim asked her if she was married at the start of the session, she was surprised that her cough cleared up within three days. Usually, it takes weeks and up to three months for her cough to clear.

She said she is familiar with TCM treatment and normally trusts only such treatments, and recalled Lim telling her that her blood pressure was very low because of a “blockage” in her body.

He then asked her to return for a follow-up session and she did so on Oct 1, 2018 to clear this “blockage”.

This time, Lim asked her if she had a boyfriend, said the woman. When she answered that she did, Lim allegedly said to ask her boyfriend to have more sexual intercourse with her and perform a sex act on her so that her blockage could be “cured”.

The woman said she had not said anything before this to trigger this question from Lim.

“I told him – doctor, can you just don’t talk nonsense because I’m here to seek treatment and not to hear this kind of bullshit,” she said. “Actually I feel very offended. This is (a) very private thing, you know.”

She said Lim then took her blood pressure and performed the tuina massage on her upper body while she was wearing a singlet and loose pants.

After the woman removed her bra as was her usual practice for tuina, Lim entered with a container of gel and wanted to massage her. He opened it as if he was about to touch her vaginal area, said the woman.

“I told him no, I can do myself,” she said. She said Lim gave her a glove to perform the massage on her vaginal area and he used two fingers to press onto her vaginal area to show her where to do it.

The woman said Lim had not given her any notice that he was about to touch her, but she complied because of how effective her cough treatment was.

SHE FELT IT WAS WEIRD AND PECULIAR

“I just feel that this treatment is very weird and peculiar, because I had never done this in the past,” she said. However, she said she wanted to trust him because of her cough treatment.

“Maybe he has something that I (have) never done before, (it) can really help me … because of my blockage, (I) am very scared of (the) cold, I’m not sure if this had something to do with the blockage,” she explained.

Lim then performed tuina on her. She lifted her left arm so he could do so and used her right hand to perform the massage herself. He also performed acupuncture and cupping on her.

Lim lifted her singlet so that her upper body was exposed, applied a substance and performed a sexual act on her. 

The woman said she felt very uncomfortable and asked Lim why he was doing it himself when he had already asked her boyfriend to do it. 

“I don’t feel comfortable, can you stop it now,” she told Lim, and he stopped.

She left the room after taking the bottle of gel, which Lim had asked her to use to continue her vaginal massage, and collected medicine from the counter.

EMBARRASSMENT, CONFUSION AND ANGER

She said she felt “very embarrassed and shameful and also confused”, but was still having doubts, so she decided to go home and research the topic online.

She said she suspected he had molested her, but was unsure. However, after doing her research, she could find no such medical practice and saw that a TCM doctor in Hong Kong was being sued in court for touching a patient.

“I (felt) very angry because I feel, you know, the doctor is using my ignorance to take advantage of me,” she said.

She called him the next day and confronted him in Mandarin, in a phone call played in court.

In an angry tone, the victim repeatedly asked Lim to provide the basis for the treatment where he had to perform a sex act on her. She also asked if he had done this to other female patients.

In his replies, Lim said it was a medical method and asked her to take classes on them or go and see other TCM doctors.

“Why didn’t you tell me and just do it. I only complied to tuina, not for you to (do the sex act). You asked my boyfriend to (do it), I didn’t agree to let you (do it). You never ask me can or not, you just did straightaway. I feel you are molesting me. I plan to call the police,” she said.

The prosecution said it will be tendering Lim’s statements to show that he had initially confessed to committing various acts, but the defence asserted that these were inaccurately taken.

Lim is defended by lawyer Tan Hee Joek. The trial continues. 

If convicted of molesting the woman, Lim can be jailed for up to two years and fined per charge. He cannot be caned as he is older than 50.

If found guilty of insulting a woman’s modesty, he can be jailed for up to a year, fined or both per charge.

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