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A Malaysian man has been sentenced to one year in jail for inapproprately touching a 17-year-old Singapore girl on whom he was allegedly conducting an exorcism. 52-year-old Mohamed Said Mohamed Sani, who describes himself as a technical officer who treats people with "spiritual disturbances", was convicted of "outraging the modesty" of his underaged victim. He had reportedly been involved with the victim's family since first "treating" the victim's brother in 2011. Insisting on seeing the siblings of his "patient", Said met with the victim some time later. After asking the girl some questions, he learned that she was involved in a kuda kepang group and told her that she was possessed by evil spirits as a result.
Kuda kepang is a traditional Javanese dance practised widely in Java, Singapore, and Malaysia. Some dance performances involve dancers becoming "possessed" and doing elaborate dancing while in a trance. Despite the popularity of the dance, many religious leaders condemn it as evil and linked to Satanism. Though the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore has spoken out against it, dance groups are common in different parts of southeast Asia.
The victim, who cannot be named due to her age, was seen for the exorcism along with her mother at an uncle's apartment in a suburb of Singapore. Not only was the mother ordered to sit facing a wall to keep from seeing what was happening, the victim was blindfolded as well. According to the victim, Said began the ceremony by chanting which made her feel as if spirts were entering her body. She then became aware of him touching her breasts followed by his unbuttoning her jeans and slipping his hand into her panties. Though the victim attempted to alert her mother to what was happening, Said pushed her back into a sitting position and then completed the ceremony.
The girl's mother only became aware of what had occurred after the ritual was completed and the victim described what Said had done to her. When the mother failed to take action and even suggested that she continue with the treatment, the victim turned to an aunt for help. It was the aunt who told her to file a police report.
Though Mohammed Said denied committing the offense, the presiding judge stated that the victim's account clearly established what had happened. In describing Said's own credibility as "wanting", the judge accepted the victim's account. The judge also accepted her explanation for why she had allowed the ritual to continue instead of fleeing, namely that she was "in shock" and wanted to rid herself of the evil spirits that Said insisted were possessing her. Questioning Said about his methods, including why he insisted on blindfolding the victim, the judge noted that Said seemed prone to giving vague and illogical answers.
Mohammed Said is appealing the verdict and is currently out on bail.
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