Drum Instructor Sentenced to Jail and Caning for Molesting Underage Student

[Singapore] – A drum instructor was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and six strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to multiple charges of molesting an underage girl.

The accused, 32-year-old Justin Lu Zhao En, took advantage of his position of trust and engaged in sexual acts with the victim, who had been his student since she was six years old.

According to CNA, Lu began exchanging sexually explicit text messages with the girl, even creating a secret code to indicate when someone was nearby. The two even had a Facetime video chat where they engaged in indecent acts.

The court heard that Lu was the victim’s drum instructor in a music studio for several years before he became her private tutor at her home. The victim’s father had hired the accused for private lessons based on his daughter’s preference. During lessons at her house, an adult, either a domestic helper or the victim’s parents, would be present.

The abuse began when the victim was 11 years old, in 2021. Lu took advantage of an opportunity after a lesson to molest the girl in her bedroom. Despite the shock, she chose to keep silent about the incident.

Text messages between Lu and the victim further exposed the nature of their illicit relationship. Lu created a secret code using three emojis – green, orange, and red – to indicate the presence of others around the victim.

According to the report, “Green emoji meant that it was clear to talk, orange emoji meant that there was someone there and not to talk about sexual matters, and finally the red emoji meant ‘I do not want to talk about sexual matters right now”.

The victim repeatedly used the red emoji to avoid discussing sexual matters, but Lu persistently harassed her for explicit images and videos.

In February and March 2021, Lu made a Facetime video call to the victim, instructing her to perform indecent acts while exposing himself.

After classes concluded on February 23, 2021, the accused requested to review the victim’s homework, prompting them to go to her bedroom. While seated next to each other on chairs, the man subjected her to molestation, leaving the girl deeply disturbed by the experience. Due to her reluctance to dwell on the matter, she chose not to disclose the incident to anyone.

Subsequently, on March 2, 2021, after a drumming lesson, Lu molested the girl again. A few days later, he coerced her into providing nude images and videos while also pressuring her to perform sexual acts.

The victim’s father eventually discovered the offenses and promptly lodged a police report on March 6, 2021. Later, in May 2022, Lu attempted to intimidate the victim by asking her to withdraw the sexual assault allegation and drop her case against him during a WhatsApp call.

During the sentencing, the prosecution highlighted that Lu had exploited the victim’s trust and manipulated the relationship for his own sexual gratification. The numerous charges against Lu further emphasized the prolonged abuse and aggravated circumstances of the case.

District Judge Brenda Chua dismissed the defense’s claim that Lu’s authority over the victim was weak, pointing out that he was her instructor for six years.

“It’s not weak at all,” the judge said in court. 

The judge also considered the use of secret code emojis as evidence of the accused’s intentions to hide his actions.

As the sentencing concluded, Lu received a prison term of three and a half years along with six strokes of the cane. The identity of the victim remains protected by a court-ordered gag order.

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