A school preacher who allegedly showered with two 12-year-old boys and cleaned a circumcision wound for one of them was cleared of indecent assault charges by a District Court judge yesterday.
But Judge Josiah Lam Wai-kuen criticised Eric Wong Wai-ming, 48, for being "unwise" and "incautious" in his interactions with the two boys, who were pupils at the school Wong was stationed at.
Wong was acquitted of all nine counts of indecent assault and granted costs. Lam said evidence given by the boys was contradictory, but he criticised Wong for showering with them and for cleaning the wound.
"It was very unwise and incautious to do those things with the boys," the judge said.
Wong should have referred the boys to medical professionals, Lam found.
But the judge added: "The court is not concerned with whether a person dealt with a situation in the best way … [but rather with] whether the defendant has made an indecent attempt to molest the boys."
Both boys had said they did not feel Wong had molested them, Lam noted, adding that there was no evidence that Wong had gained sexual pleasure from touching the boys.
Outside court, Wong said that he would reflect on the ruling. "Praise God," he added.
The judge accepted that it was the two boys, who were referred to only as X and Y during the trial, who had first approached Wong to ask him questions about circumcision in June last year.
The court heard Wong had drawn a picture to explain the procedure to the boys and had used a pencil to point to their penises. Wong then advised X to have the procedure.
Wong said he had treated X and Y as his sons after they had been referred to him by their school after poor behaviour in class. The boys said Wong took them swimming and to take part in other sports, after which they would shower together in public washrooms.
The judge found marked differences in the boys' evidence about the alleged group showers. X said Wong had touched them in a sexual manner, but Y said no sexual contact occurred.
Wong was charged with molesting X - whose circumcision wound he helped clean - on seven occasions, and Y on two occasions between June and August last year.