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Former SPH journalist gets 18 months’ jail for underage sex

SINGAPORE — Not only did he get romantically involved with a 15-year-old student he was mentoring, he was audacious enough to bring her home and have sex with her while his wife was in the kitchen.

Former SPH journalist gets 18 months’ jail for underage sex

A former Singapore Press Holdings journalist has been sentenced to 18 months' jail for sex with an underaged girl he was mentoring.

SINGAPORE — Not only did he get romantically involved with a 15-year-old student he was mentoring, he was audacious enough to bring her home and have sex with her while his wife was in the kitchen.

Slamming him for preying on the minor, a judge yesterday sentenced former Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) journalist Eisen Teo Guan Kuan, 29, to 18 months’ jail.

The former SPH scholar had pleaded guilty to one count of oral sex with the victim and another count of having sex with her.

The court heard that Teo was part of the Straits Times team that produces two weekly magazines for primary and secondary school students, as well as conducts activities for students through its IN Crowd media club. His work included mentoring about a dozen student journalists, including the girl, who cannot be named to protect her identity.

In June 2011, Teo read on the girl’s blog that she was depressed, suffering from insomnia and being bullied in school. He started taking a special interest in her and she confided in him that she had clinical depression.

Near the end of the year, they became romantically involved and he initially hid the fact that he was married from her.

Teo also gained her family’s trust in his capacity as a mentor and helped them organise a surprise party for her in November that year.

In early 2012, while they were on a date at Fort Canning Park, Teo propositioned the girl to perform oral sex on him in one of the toilets. She agreed.

In June that year, he invited her to his matrimonial home in Serangoon. After introducing the girl to his wife, Teo took her into the study room. Unbeknownst to his wife, who was baking in the kitchen, Teo got the girl to consent to sex with him.

Two days after having sex with Teo, the girl attempted suicide by slitting her forearms and taking Panadol in a toilet cubicle in *SCAPE after an IN Crowd meeting.

While she was in hospital, her father noticed the close relationship Teo had with her. He also found sexual content in Facebook and WhatsApp messages between the two.

The father had to get a lawyer to tell Teo to stop contacting his daughter after he refused to pick up his phone calls.

Their sexual encounters were discovered a few months later when the victim told her sister about them. But because she was depressed, her parents took her to visit an uncle in California for a few months to get her in a better emotional state before making a police report in December 2012.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong Wei-Zhen argued for an 18-month prison term, citing Teo’s abuse of trust and the victim’s youth and vulnerability as aggravating factors.

Teo’s relationship with the victim was akin to that of a teacher and student, and there were indications he intended to sexually exploit her from the beginning, she added.

Recent cases of accused persons who abused their position of trust and authority to commit sexual offences against charges under their care have been sentenced to jail terms of 12 to 20 months.

State Courts judge Hamidah Ibrahim said that while Teo had pleaded guilty, he had clearly taken advantage of his immature and vulnerable victim. She also remarked that his wife must have been merely metres away in their flat when he was having sex with the victim.

Teo was expressionless when he heard his sentence.

Neo Chai Chin

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