The Sabah politician accused of molesting a beauty contestant has claimed trial to molestation charges.
Philip Among from the STAR political party pleaded not guilty to five charges of criminal force to outrage the modesty of two women, weeks after an unnamed pageant contestant filed a police report against him. He was accused of committing the offense against one of the women at an inn on the night of April 17, and on the second person at various locations between 2pm and 10pm on May 19.
He attended the court hearing with his counsel Marcel Jude and in front of Magistrate Jessica Ombou Kakayun.
He was granted RM8,000 bail (about US$2,000) for each charge with two sureties and is expected to return to court for pre-trial case management on July 14, 21, and 22. Among was also ordered to report to the police station once a month and was banned from speaking to witnesses until the disposal of the case.
Police said yesterday they have completed their investigations into Among, which involved interviews with 12 people, including those who competed in the Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan on May 31.
“We do not rule out more than one charge could be filed against him for various other offences,” Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali told reporters.
Among faces penalties that include 10 years’ jail, fine, and caning.
The police complaint filed against Among on May 21 alleged that he had groped several parts of the beauty contestant’s body after taking her to his office. He was subsequently arrested on June 3.
A man named Dane Kovacs, who claimed to be Among’s former employee, outed Among on Tuesday about an impromptu photo and video shoot he was instructed to do for only one of the beauty contestants. Among then decided to join the woman in front of the camera, which made the contestant feel uncomfortable, he said.
“Out of the blue, Philip Among walked up to the woman and without asking for her consent, placed his hands on her various parts of her body, and instructed her to make several poses for the photoshoot,” Kovacs said, adding that Among even made lewd and crude remarks, and frequently referred to the contestant as his girlfriend. Among also had a bad temper, according to Kovacs.
Separately, the small-time politician is accused of verbally abusing a People’s Volunteer Corps officer, who reported him to the police on June 2.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with details of Philip Among’s charges.
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