Academic attacked me, then we went out for dinner, woman tells assault trial

Woman respected the man accused of molesting her and didn't want to offend him, court hears

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 12:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 4:13am

A woman in an indecent assault case said yesterday she did not complain after a prominent academic pressed his body against hers because he was well respected in education circles and she was afraid of offending him.

The woman, 32, identified only as Y, told Eastern Court that Professor Lee Ngok on two occasions had pressed her against the wall of his City University office and rubbed his groin on her.

But on both occasions they had gone to dinner afterwards because she was afraid to refuse.

Y was giving evidence for the first time on the fifth day of the trial in which Lee, 73, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of indecently assaulting Y between March and October 2010 and six of indecently assaulting another female colleague, X, between 2007 and 2010.

"We were facing each other. Our chests, abdomens and lower body parts were in contact," Y said. "His hand touched my face and he also tried to kiss me; I moved my head away."

Lee was a consultant at the university at the time. They had worked together at a further education college from 2008 to 2009. Y had left the college but kept in contact with Lee, helping him type up documents.

Y said the first incident occurred when she went to Lee's office to pick up documents.

She said "don't do this" at first when Lee pressed himself against her but he did not stop. He bent his knees to adapt to her height, and moved his groin around, the court heard.

She wanted to move away from him but could not because he was pressed against her. He touched her arm, shoulder, neck, face, waist and the side of her hip. It lasted for about 10 minutes before he walked away, she said.

Y said she did not agree to what Lee did. "I was very frightened at the time. I didn't know how to react and dared not say no. He was highly respected and had a good reputation. I respected him and did not want to offend him," she said.

He assaulted her in a similar way when she returned the documents several weeks later, Y said.

They left the office together on both occasions and went out for dinner as previously arranged.

She admitted that she would not have reported the incidents to police if her former boss at the college had not suggested it to her two years later.

Her ex-boss called Y in June last year, telling her that a colleague had been molested by Lee and asking whether she had encountered a similar problem.

The hearing before Magistrate So Wai-tak was adjourned yesterday afternoon when Lee's lawyer said the academic had a fever and had to see a doctor. It will resume on Wednesday.

Lee is a former dean of the University of Hong Kong's faculty of arts and the founding director of its School of Professional and Continuing Education.