Sun, Aug 23, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Expat professor in HK convicted of molesting students

DPA , HONG KONG

An expatriate professor was behind bars yesterday after being convicted of molesting two female students in his office at the University of Hong Kong.

Terence Shortall, 53, an associate professor of education at the university, was convicted of two counts of indecent assault. He denied the charges.

He was remanded in custody at a hearing on Friday to be sentenced on Sept. 3 after being told by a magistrate he had been unable to control his lust, the South China Morning Post reported.

The first victim, a 21-year-old student, testified how Shortall touched her back and inner thigh when she went to his office for help with her studies when she faced being kicked off her course.

Irishman Shortall, who has 30 years’ teaching experience, kissed the student then grabbed her hand and placed it on his groin several times, the trial in Hong Kong’s Eastern Magistracy was told.

He had also sent the student e-mails suggesting she had to teach him how to dance in return for helping her with her studies and ended one with the words: “Sleep well.”

A second student who was assaulted three days later said Shortall pressed her legs between his and tried to kiss her when she went to his office at his invitation.

Shortall claimed the stories were fabricated, insisting that he avoided physical contact beyond shaking hands with students.

“I wouldn’t do anything stupid to jeopardize my career,” he said.

A letter from a former senior British magistrate was read out to the court by Shortall’s lawyer in which he described the academic as “a man of high honour.”

However, magistrate William Lam (林鉅溥) said the evidence showed Shortall was “not as professional or pristine” as he claimed and concluded: “He could not control his sexual desire.”

The University of Hong Kong said counseling and support would be provided for the affected students and that Shortall’s contract was under review.

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