Phillip Among charged with 5 counts of sexual assault against 2 women

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A politician was charged at the Kota Kinabalu magistrate’s court today with five counts of molesting two women, one of them an Unduk Ngadau beauty pageant contestant.

Ersie Anjumin/NST

Clad in a blue suit, Phillip Among @ Daniel Dell Fidelis, 52, who appeared before Magistrate Jessica Ombou Kakayun pleaded not guilty to all charges against him under Section 354 of the Penal Code.

In the first charge, Phillip was accused of molesting an 18-year-old woman at 11pm on April 17 at the living room of Jesselton Capsule Inn in Asia City.

On the second to fifth counts, Phillip was accused of molesting an Unduk Ngadau contestant four times at various places on May 19 between 2pm and 10pm.

The alleged acts took place inside Studio Darvel Bay Borneo Holidays Sdn Bhd in Asia City; inside a moving car from a restaurant towards an old office in the city; at a staircase next to Ever Best Photo in Asia City; and inside an office in Metro Town.

For each charge of outraging the modesty of a woman, Phillip faces a jail term of up to 10 years or a fine or whipping or with any two such punishments.

Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor Siti Amirah Muhammad Ali submitted that this case had been in the limelight in social media.

She said she received instructions to propose bail of RM20,000 for each case with two local sureties.

She also applied for the accused to report to the police station twice a month and not to tamper with the prosecution’s witnesses, especially the victims, and the accused’s passport to be surrendered to the court.

In reply, counsel Abdul Fikry Jaafar Abdullah applied for a low bail to be granted to his client and suggested a bail amount of RM2,000 for each of the charges.

Abdul Fikry argued that his client was living with his wife and two children aged six and eight, so there was no reason for the accused to abscond.

He also submitted the accused is suffering health problems and having ongoing stroke treatment.

Echoing Abdul Fikry, counsel Marcel Jude Joseph, who also represented Phillip, said that RM20,000 bail for each case amounting to RM100,000 proposed by the prosecution was excessive.

He said though this case was of public interest, the court must look at the real interest of the public and not fall into the trap of over glorifying a beauty contest in a time of a pandemic.

“By the same token, it must also look at Phillip with a correct perspective. Phillip is not a demonised sexual predator. He is a responsible, successful businessman and family man.

“Like any man, he may have weaknesses, but we are not judging him on his weaknesses, we are judging him as to whether he is a criminal, a criminal who assaults or uses criminal force to obtain sex from his victims.

“We cannot turn physical consensual actions of affection between adults into a Section 354 offence,” he said.

Marcel said in deciding bail, the court must look at Phillip as the real person who had done many good works for the public, such as helping many Sabahans who were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also highlighted that Phillip has been suspended by a political party due to pressure from social media.

“In the determination of the bail amount, we urge this court not to cave in to the same kind of pressure,” he said, adding in Malaysia, jurisprudence was built on the cornerstone that everyone is innocent until found guilty.

Marcel also submitted that reporting twice a month to the police station was inappropriate due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

After hearing both parties, Jessica allowed bail of RM8,000 for each case (totalling RM40,000) with two local sureties.

She also gave additional conditions that the accused’s passport be surrendered to the court until the disposal of this case.

She also ordered the accused to report himself once a month to the nearest police station.

Further, the court stressed that the accused and/or his representatives were restricted from communicating with the victim and/or the victim’s family, until the disposal of the case.

The hearing was conducted in open court at 10am today.

Due to strict SOPs, only two family members and a limited number of reporters were allowed to sit at the public gallery.

Phillip was arrested on June 3 following a police report lodged by the pageant contestant over molest allegations. He was remanded for seven days since June 4 to facilitate police investigations over the claims.

Counsel Mohd Syazwan Shah Mohd Ali also appeared in court to hold a watching brief for an interested party who was not disclosed in court. – NST