SINGAPORE, Sept 10 — The owner of a massage parlour was sentenced yesterday to 22 months in jail for molesting three young female dancers who had sought relief for their aching muscles.
Qu Laihua, who owns and operates with his wife a massage parlour called Genki Wellness located along Clemenceau Avenue, had rubbed the women’s groin region, skin-on-skin, under the guise of performing full body massages on them.
The 57-year-old Singaporean, who denied committing the offences, was found guilty of three charges of molestation following a trial.
His victims, who were aged between 26 and 30 when they were violated on different occasions in March 2016, were all dancers at the same dance studio.
The first victim, a 28-year-old then, testified that a female masseuse was massaging her at the start of her session, but was told that her hand felt painful so she had to ask a male masseur to take over the session, who turned out to be Qu.
At one point during the massage, he instructed her to bend one leg before proceeding to massage her bent leg from the calf up. He later massaged her pubic area and touched her private parts under her underwear.
She initially thought it could have been an accident or unintentional, but when this was repeated on her other leg, she began to voice her discomfort by telling Qu “no” in Mandarin and using her hands to block her groin area.
She did not tell anyone about her experience until she spoke to the second victim and realised that they shared similar experiences. The second victim was told by Qu that bending one leg at a time would allow him to get into the “harder-to-reach areas.”
The third victim, who was also in the studio, overheard their conversation and started talking about her experience as well. After one such intrusive massage, she had cried in a nearby public toilet for close to 10 minutes.
They then reported the matter to the police on April 1 that year.
Victims ‘made to doubt themselves’
In seeking a jail term of at least 24 months, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nicholas Lai said that a massage was supposed to be a relaxing and soothing session for the victims, but it turned out to be a life-changing ordeal for each of them.
“Going for a massage used to be an essential part of their routine as dancers who were susceptible to muscle aches and tightness, but not anymore,” he wrote in his submissions.
And in having to testify at trial, he said that the victims were made to relive the experience of Qu molesting them.
He added that they were questioned repeatedly on what and how they felt at the time of the molestation, grilled on why they did not simply shout for help and put through the wringer as to why they did not make a police report immediately after the massage.
“They were essentially made to doubt themselves and act as if nothing had happened,” he said.
Pointing out that Qu had “instantly tarnished” the perception of well-meaning and honest masseurs, DPP Lai also said that a stiff sentence is warranted to deter like-minded would-be offenders from trying to thread the grey line between legitimate massage acts and molestation.
This is because massage treatments are mostly done in private with customers having to remove their clothes and masseurs coming into contact with sensitive areas of the body, he said.
“There is significant public interest in ensuring that the accused is adequately punished so as to send a strong signal that such acts that usually go undetected would be met with the full force of the law when discovered.”
Qu could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or any combination of these punishments on each molestation conviction. — TODAY