04 May 2008

Guilty until proven innocent: the case of William Ding

Characterising the prosecution's case as "fraught with serious internal inconsistencies and irreconcilable material contradictions" an appeal judge acquitted William Ding of molesting 2 teenagers. But why was such a weak case even launched, dragging on for 3 years? Full essay.


Anonymous said...

on a non related issue - at least Ding had his thing in Court.

Mas Selamat had nothing to defend himself. no curt hearing. Another 26 muslims are currently detained. 26 fractured families. Could ISA have made a mistake in identifying these as terrorist? What recourse did they have? What would it take for them to be released - 6 months, 6 years, 16 years?

What happens if nother 'terrorist' go missing? like they did in handling Mas Selamat? Can the wife of Mas and family sue ISA for losing their sole breadwinner while in their custody? Held without trial?

Is it time to remove ISA - since now we know they they can make mistakes....

Anonymous said...

since the charges were thrown out, you have no evidence for assuming that Ding is a homosexual; there is therefore also no evidence for describing the prosecution and judge as homophobic; prejudiced maybe, with no evidence to prove any specific kind of prejudice

innocent till proven guilty!


Solo Bear said...

I feel that gays are over-blowing things. Did not Ding admit he shared same bed with the boys? Were not those boys underaged at that time? Is that not implicit admission that there was some sexual relationship?

What if those boys had been girls instead? Would not the action of sharing same bed now look very much like there was some paedophilic connotation?

If at all, Ding should thank his lucky stars that the judge has let him off the hook, even when it is clear to society that when you share a bed with an underaged child, you could well have been implicated for some sexual wrong doing.

That is how I see the above issue. Somehow, gays see it as a “gay issue”. How that came about to be, I don’t know. Probably it is due to the fact that gays are paranoid and imagine that the whole world is after them.

Anonymous said...

the basic idea of "innocent till proven guilty" is to keep an open mind in the absence of conclusive evidence; you need to do that on both sides of the case; the students' story may be contradictory, but so is Ding's story: is he a strict disciplinarian on whom aggrieved students sought revenge, or is he an approachable person on very friendly terms with the students?

after the appeal verdict, some of his more experienced colleagues commented that a figure of authority, such as a teacher, need to maintain a certain distance from those he has authority over; in the absence of other evidence, I guess that's the lesson for him and for others

zx said...

Actually, I don't see how William Ding was treated differently because he was suspected of homosexual conduct. A teacher who had been suspected of sexually harassing female students would have been treated the same way by the DJ, I think. Perhaps the trial judge's actions was really influenced by her fears regarding teacher-student relationships and the potential abuse of power, rather than homophobic views.

Coincidentally, I wonder if the AGC will now charge the boys for perjury, since they lied in court and in their witness statements.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

sgsociety -

You are raising the very point that I said was irrelevant: whether Ding was gay or not. You are saying that no one can prove that Ding was gay, hence, without his being gay, there can be no question of homophobia. But I just said homophobia can be visited upon anyone who is suspected of being gay, even if he is straight. So we don't have to prove that Ding is gay.

As you can see from the comment following yours, there is that suspicion, arising from his quite inappropriate conduct with his students.

Indeed it is hard to defend that conduct, but my point (perhaps it is difficult because it is very nuanced) is precisely that that history of conduct should not colour an objective evaluation of the evidence.

When Justice V K Rajah looked at the evidence without colouration, he found it wanting.

The question is thus: how come it had to go all the way to appeal before someone looked at the evidence objectively?

What impulses lay behind the tendency to view the evidence in a prejudicial way at police investigation stage, at prosecutor evaluation stage, at trial stage?

ZX -

I take your point. Ultimately, however it is hypothetical. and the hypothetical question is If it was a male teacher with female students and he behaved similarly inappropriately, but also if the female students' testimony were equally inconsistent as Ding's students, would the police still have decided to charge him? Would the AGC still decide to prosecute? Would the trial judge have behaved in as determinedly inquisitorial a way as she did in Ding's case?

To help answer this question: Does anyone remember any case of opposite-sex molest thrown out and criticised for sloppinness like this case? I don't think so, and the absence will only go to show that at the investigation stage, the police would have looked at the shakey evidence without a prejudicial filter.

Why weren't they, the AGC and the judge clear-headed and objective in this case? That is the nub of the issue.

You wrote: "Perhaps the trial judge's actions was really influenced by her fears regarding teacher-student relationships and the potential abuse of power, rather than homophobic views."

But that's not the role of a judge. What made her depart from her proper role?

Robert L said...

Dear YB

I feel much in agreement with Solo Bear's post. Your article has laid too much weight on the gay aspect.

There are at least two other aspects involved, not just gay. Those are issues involving molestation of minors and issues of power and control. The boys were aged 13 and 14, we must all agree that it's a tender age when children need special protection. Then there is the teacher-pupil relationship involving immoral application of power and control over children placed under their care.

Not that I'm saying Ding was guilty. In fact, I applaud Appeal Judge Rajah for a well thought-out verdict.

Having said that, I must bring up a point that many people seem to have missed, particularly the ST Forum post by Khoo Lih-Han shown in your side-bar. The fact that the guilty verdict was thrown out in the Appeal Court does not mean that the allegations were false, it merely meant that the proof was insufficient. Children at a young age of 13/14 may be confused and cannot account for why they did not do this or that. I could go further into speculation, but I won't, I'll merely make a blanket statement that children might have many reasons to tell only part of the truth.

And that brings me back to the Appeal verdict. When the testimonies are pieced together and found to be wanting, it is only legally proper to return a verdict of not guilty. However, we should not jump to the wrong conclusion that the accusers were lying. I hope bloggers have sufficient accuity to see the distinction.

Unfortunately, since Yawning Bread has given so much prominence to that Khoo Lih-Han forum post, it appears that the present article is heavily out of balance without identifying the distinction that I've raised. YB should now consider adding that distinction into the Addenda of his page - that it's wrong to conclude that the boys were lying.

Anonymous said...

Yawningbread, I hope you will post something about the recent police harassment at 1-7 spa...i want to know the full story.

Anonymous said...

In response to robert l, by your reasoning, then no one can be truly innocent. You are saying that even if a court finds someone innocent, this does not mean that the accuser didn't tell the truth. Therefore, the accused is not innocent after all.

You are reducing everything to a question of what people want to believe, which is exactly what courts and a judicial system, refined by centuries of experiences is designed to avoid. If we are to become a truly fair society, then we have to accept the courts word that so and so is innocent (or for that matter, guilty).

Robert L said...

To the anonymous of 08 May, 22:17

Let me help out on your thought process, since you are not alone and many others seem unable to understand the legal situation.

I will happily conclude that Ding is innocent of the accusations if the boys are prosecuted for lying to the Court and are convicted. If the authorities do not proceed to prosecute the boys, then it implies that they are not certain the boys were lying. Is this easier to understand?

If the authorities are not certain that the boys were lying, then it follows that they are not certain that Ding is innocent.

After saying that, I must apologise to Mr Ding, I feel sorry that after all this, we still have a situation where we cannot say with certainty that he's innocent.

Anonymous said...

being cleared by a court means in the minimum that the accusation has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt; it does not equal the maximum, the accused being innocent; in fact, in this case a lower court (possibily with preconceived idea and overly interventionist) believe he was guilty, but the higher court had doubt

in the same way, Ding being let go does not imply that his accusers' story was perjury; the appeal court merely found it insufficient for a conviction; on the other hand, their not being charged also does not equate their story being true, merely that there is no clear case of perjury

from the information available, both Ding and the boys acted inappropriately, but as the mature person with educational and pastoral responsibility, Ding's lapse was more serious; the claim of his strictness causing vindictiveness might have been useful as legal defense to indicate reasonable doubt; it does not appear to fit his general image and conduct