Alleged indecent assault victims say they had ‘respected and trusted’ accused university consultant

Colleague of respected figure in education claims he pulled her to him and tried to kiss her

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 3:13am

A prominent academic touched a female colleague on the bottom and then tried to kiss her, a court heard yesterday.

Lee Ngok, 73, then deputy president of a non-profit further education college, was reviewing documents with the 39-year-old woman at a hotel bar in Causeway Bay in 2010, when he slid his hand down her back to her bottom and asked her to drink his glass of wine, the woman - identified only as X - told Eastern Court.

He then allegedly touched her bottom again in the hotel lift lobby as he tried to kiss her, she said.

Lee is facing six charges of indecently assaulting the woman on a total of three occasions and two charges of indecently assaulting another female colleague. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

At the time of the alleged assaults in 2010, X had been preparing documents that had to be reviewed by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications in order for the college to continue to offer its associate degree programmes, the court heard.

X described Lee as a "well-known and influential" figure in the education sector whom she had "trusted and respected". He was giving advice on documents for the revalidation.

When he asked her to drink his glass of wine on the evening of January 5, 2010, in the Dickens Bar at The Excelsior Hotel, she complied out of fear of offending him and damaging the college's chances of securing the revalidation from the council, the court heard. She told the court: "If I angered him, upsetting him so that he wouldn't help us, then the whole school would be affected."

After touching her on the bottom, he allegedly asked her whether she had enough money and whether she wanted him to give her some money. She responded that she had enough.

When they were leaving the hotel and were alone in the lift lobby, he suddenly pulled her to him, laid a hand on her buttocks, and moved to kiss her, she told the court. She turned to avoid him and the kiss landed on her cheek. They then left the hotel together and she saw him off at the taxi stand.

Previously, Lee had touched X on her thigh, back, waist and arm while they were going over documents early in 2007 in Cafe Renaissance in Wan Chai's Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel and in December 2009 in the nearby Delaney's Bar, the court heard. On both occasions, she leaned away from him but did not say anything to him about it. She said it made her uncomfortable and she had told the school's chief operations officer, who was shocked and told her to be more careful.

The other woman, a 32-year-old identified as Y, was allegedly assaulted in offices at City University, Kowloon Tong, between March and October in 2010.

Lee is a former dean of arts at the University of Hong Kong and served as pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.

X will continue to give evidence today before Magistrate So Wai-tak.