Hong Kong courts

Civil claim slapped against former Hong Kong care home warden accused of molesting mentally disabled resident

Mother of alleged victim files lawsuit claiming daughter was sexually assaulted, following collapse of criminal trial in 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 March, 2018, 9:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 March, 2018, 11:03pm

A former Hong Kong care home warden who walked free from a criminal trial because a mentally disabled resident he allegedly molested was found unfit to testify was on Monday hit with a civil claim.

The mother of the alleged victim filed a lawsuit at the District Court in which she claimed her daughter had been sexually assaulted by Cheung Kin-wah on August 10, 2014, at the now-defunct Bridge of Rehabilitation care home in Kwai Chung.

Cheung, 56, was the centre’s superintendent and is a shareholder in its parent company. The home provided care for Hong Kong’s mentally incapacitated.

The mother, who along with the alleged victim the Post has decided not to name, is seeking unspecified damages, according to a court writ.

Cheung was earlier accused of sexually assaulting the then 21-year-old woman, who had the mental capacity of an eight-year-old. The woman had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since the alleged assault in 2014, the court heard during the trial.

Cheung denied one count of unlawful intercourse with a mentally disabled woman.

X, as the woman was referred to in court, was found unfit to testify in 2016 due to her post-traumatic depression. It meant the case at the District Court was dropped, despite what the judge called “strong evidence” against Cheung.

Six pieces of tissue paper with traces of his ­semen and a mixture of bodily fluids from both he and X had been produced. Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi described the collapse of the case as “the luck of the defendant but a misfortune for the victim and society”.

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The case prompted a public outcry in Hong Kong. Activists started a petition and organised demonstrations outside the care home, which eventually led to its demise.

In November 2016 the government’s Social Welfare Department revoked the centre’s operating certificate. More than 90 residents had to find alternative accommodation.

Cheung was also the subject of another legal battle ending just last month that involved the directorship of the care home’s parent company, Cheer Holdings.

Cheung, a minor shareholder in the firm, was accused of appointing himself director behind the backs of majority shareholders.

Hong Kong’s High Court in February removed him from the director’s role after ruling his “continuing presence” would “cause material damage” to the other shareholders financially, and “irreparable damage in terms of reputation”.

His bid for the director’s role prompted the Social Welfare Department to tell Cheer Holdings that if he remained involved in any care home the parent company ran, its licence would not be renewed.

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But Madam Justice Queeny Au Yeung Kwai-yue said she reached her decision to remove Cheung regardless of the department’s view.

“The public reading this judgment today can still remember how its confidence in the responsible running of a care home for the mentally disabled was shattered upon the arrest of Mr Cheung,” she said.

Cheung claimed he had been working as a kitchen cleaner earning HK$250 a day since losing his role with the company. His name was last week removed from the Social Workers Registration Board.