21st February 2024

Police have arrested a student at the Education University of Hong Kong (EdU) accused of raping an undergraduate, molesting two others and opening a shower curtain as a fourth bathed, with the incidents alleged to have taken place at three of the six orientation events he attended over the summer.

The 28-year-old suspect, who is a fourth-year student, allegedly raped one of the victims on July 23, just days before he was caught in connection with another sex offence that took place in January and involved a fifth student.

Police on Wednesday said the other three incidents occurred in August after the 28-year-old was released on bail in connection with the earliest one.

The case marked the latest in a worrying trend at the city’s institutions, with a University of Hong Kong (HKU) student facing charges of sexual assault in an earlier incident also at an orientation camp.

Hong Kong’s equality watchdog warned that students might have also violated the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, calling for more vigilance against harassment on campuses.

Hong Kong police probe second university sex assault, Lee calls for discipline

Police said the individual in the EdU case was detained on Lantau Island on Tuesday on suspicion of indecent assault and voyeurism. The suspect was still being held for questioning as of Wednesday morning.

The man was also accused of molesting a university student, 22, in his car when they first met on January 13, in addition to the other four incidents, according to a source familiar with the case.

The source said the pair met on social media in December.

The man was arrested in connection with the case on July 27 and granted bail, pending further investigation.

He is accused of raping the 18-year-old woman at Po Leung Kuk Jockey Club Tai Tong Holiday Camp in Yuen Long in the early hours of July 23 during a two-day orientation camp there.

The man was also said to have gone into a bathroom and pulled open the shower curtain as a 22-year-old woman was taking a bath at another orientation camp on Lantau Island just after midnight on August 28.

Education University is the second tertiary institution in Hong Kong to be embroiled in orientation camp scandals after an earlier case at HKU. Photo: Roy Issa

Police identified the other two victims while investigating the incident from July 23 and one of the cases from August 28.

Among the two is an 18-year-old student who also attended the Lantau Island camp. The man is accused of touching her right thigh as she chatted with her friends in the early hours of August 28.

The other is a 19-year-old student who joined an orientation camp in the New Territories. She and the man were among five attendees who gathered at the Tai Po Waterfront Park on the last night of the event on August 22.

The source said the victim had accused the man of molesting her while driving her home.

Superintendent Basil Tang Yick-kay, an assistant Yuen Long district commander, on Wednesday said the suspect attended six orientation camps in July and August, five of which involved EdU students. The other was a joint-varsity event.

Police are urging any other victims to come forward and contact officers. Photo: Warton Li

Tang urged any other victims to come forward and contact officers at 9285 0137 and 3661 4645.

The fresh allegations came in the wake of separate sexual assault complaints centred on an HKU orientation camp last month.

Tang Ho-yin, a second-year HKU student, was on Monday charged with a sex assault on an 18-year-old woman in an activity room at Po Leung Kuk Jockey Club Tai Tong Holiday Camp on August 20, and with groping her again in a dormitory room the next day. He was released on bail.

Meanwhile, Lingnan University is also investigating activities at an orientation camp organised by a student hall after an online video showed participants engaging in games that involved intimate physical contact.

Chu Man-kin, chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, warned that students might have violated legislation on sexual discrimination.

“From recent reports, we have also seen some behaviour which does not yet constitute a criminal offence, but could constitute sexual harassment,” he said.

HKU student bailed by Hong Kong court in orientation camp sex assault case

Chu pointed out that acts of sexual harassment, prohibited under the ordinance, included making unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sex favours and creating a sexually hostile or intimidating environment.

He also warned that traumatic experiences might result in long-term psychological damage for new students as the orientation camps were their first taste of university life.

The chairman added that the commission had issued letters to the tertiary education sector in early June to call for vigilance against potentially discriminatory incidents at orientation camps. It also held more than 30 non-compulsory training sessions from January to August.

“I suppose organisers were not vigilant enough because they were accustomed to the traditional way of holding orientation activities,” he said. “I hope the recent incidents can raise public awareness and we can gradually see the results of our training.”

Equality watchdog wants laws tightened to protect victims of sexual harassment

The cases have also prompted the city’s leader to remind varsities of their responsibilities to maintain discipline. Condemning the alleged cases, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on Tuesday said such acts were “intolerable”.

“If there is any behaviour that is illegal or that infringes on the rights of others, schools must cooperate with law enforcement to ensure that we can deal with such conduct,” Lee said, pointing out that society had expectations of university students and they should observe proper conduct.

Lee said he hoped all ­educational organisations, ­especially universities, would improve the conduct of students on top of providing a good ­learning environment.