By Ariel Pang and Claudia Chong
A 25-year-old man has been arrested following a teenager’s report that he was molested by a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) graduate student in his dormitory room last November.
The 17-year-old, a minor under the law, alleged that he had been misled into believing that he was meeting the graduate student as part of a research project.
Instead, he told the Nanyang Chronicle he was taken to a graduate dormitory room, where he stripped as instructed and was restrained to a bed before being molested.
He said he responded to an online advertisement for participants in a so-called “body stimulation” research project. The Chronicle found several variations of the ad posted on websites such as Craigslist, Gumtree, Bestfreead.net and Locanto, with telephone contact details for the NTU researcher who claimed to be conducting the study.
The ads, which have since expired or been taken down, called for students in secondary school through university to take part in a study involving “light sensation touches”. It said that “light restrain(t)s” would be applied during the experiment, “in order to achieve uniformity in results collection”.
Participants were promised payment of up to $25 an hour, with the ad on Craigslist promising an additional $10 per session for those below 16 years old. The Craigslist ad also called specifically for male participants.
When contacted by the Chronicle, NTU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) confirmed that no such research study on body stimulation was found in their database. The NTU-IRB is responsible for approving research studies involving human subjects conducted by NTU staff and students.
The alleged victim told the Chronicle that he had come across the ad on Gumtree and communicated via WhatsApp with the person who responded to his inquiries at the number stated.
He said he was told he would be tickled to gauge his body’s responsiveness to touch, and that for each item of clothing he kept on during the experiment, money would be deducted from his payment.
He said he agreed to these conditions, believing that he had signed up for an official NTU study that would take place in a lab.
On the night of Nov 13 at around 8pm, he was instructed to meet the researcher at the lobby of an NTU graduate hall.
He said he told the police he was led to a dorm room, where he was instructed to take a shower and come out naked. He was then blindfolded and restrained to a bed with cloth.
He said he was restrained for two hours. He alleged that after tickling him for an hour, the man began stimulating his penis. Afterwards, the man paid him $55 to masturbate, saying he had done the same with a previous “participant”.
Asked why he did not protest, the teenager said he was afraid to do so because the alleged perpetrator was “a big guy”.
He filed a police report the next day.
The Chronicle contacted the graduate student through the mobile number listed on the ads, which matched the number the minor had used to correspond with the alleged perpetrator.
The graduate student confirmed his identity, but denied any involvement with the online ads and the police investigation.
The NTU-IRB told the Chronicle in an email that he had denied any affiliation with the research study when contacted by them.
The graduate student also claimed he did not know who placed the ads, and that his mobile number had been listed without his knowledge or permission.
He said he had received calls from people about the ads, and had asked an associate chair of his faculty for help to have his number removed from the ads.
A police letter addressed to the minor on Nov 15, 2017 said that investigations into the case are ongoing.
In a statement to the Chronicle, an NTU spokesperson said: “The University views academic and research misconduct as serious disciplinary offences. We are aware that the police is investigating this case, and we are assisting them in their investigations.”
Police said in a statement on Jan 20 that a 25-year-old man had been arrested for outrage of modesty.