Man gets 42 years’ jail, 24 strokes of the cane for sexually assaulting boys at after-school care centre
SINGAPORE — While working as a teaching assistant at an after-school care centre from 2013 to 2020, a man abused his position to get close to about a dozen boys before preying on them.
- For about seven years, a man's sexual assault against a dozen boys went undetected
- His crimes were uncovered when an overseas law agency traced emails containing child pornography to his account
- Investigators found 105 homemade videos recording the man's sexual acts with his victims
- They were mostly children at a care centre where he worked
SINGAPORE — While working as a teaching assistant at an after-school care centre from 2013 to 2020, a man abused his position to get close to about a dozen boys before sexually preying on them.
He would buy them gifts that they liked to gain their trust, and started showing physical acts of affection by hugging them and kissing them on the cheeks. Over time, as the boys slowly got comfortable with him, the man would sexually assault them.
The man carried on with his crimes virtually undetected until an overseas law agency notified the police here that emails containing child pornography were traced to an account linked to him.
Investigators later found videos showing him sexually assaulting the victims. Each of the victims’ faces could be identified in the videos, which the man admitted he had recorded "for his own pleasure", court documents stated.
On Monday (Aug 22), the High Court sentenced the man, now aged 30, to 42 years’ jail with the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.
He pleaded guilty to six charges of aggravated sexual assault by penetration, with 54 other charges taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing.
The man and the care centre cannot be named due to a court order to protect the identities of his victims, who were all aged 14 or below at the time of his offences.
FAMILIAR WITH THE CARE CENTRE
Court documents showed that the man was enrolled at the care centre during his primary school days, and continued visiting the centre occasionally during his secondary school days to do his homework and help with administrative matters.
Soon after his National Service in 2012, he began to volunteer at the centre to help students with their mathematics homework about four to five times a week.
The principal of the centre began giving him an allowance from 2013 for the work he did, which also included accompanying children on outings.
He was also entrusted with a set of keys to the centre.
While working there, he gained the trust of the boys by buying them food, gifts, mobile phone game credits and whatever he observed that they liked.
He was known to the parents of a few of the boys. He also took some of the boys out for meals and leisure activities at his own expense.
He began sexually abusing them with seemingly innocent contact such as hugs or kisses on the cheeks before progressing to kissing them on the lips and initiating sexual contact.
From 2013 to August 2020, the man sexually assaulted 11 boys who were under the care of the centre.
The offences took place at the centre itself, at the man’s residence and various other places.
On some occasions, two or three victims were engaging in sexual acts in a group setting, with the man telling them to do so.
BOY'S MOTHER FOUND MESSAGE ON PHONE
The mother of one of the victims, who was in Primary 5 and aged 11 in 2015, noticed that her son often wanted to spend time at the centre and would return home late at night.
She later checked the boy's mobile phone and saw that the man had sent him messages regularly and mostly late at night, including one that said “I love you, baby”.
When she confronted the man, he rebuffed her and alleged that she had neglected her own son, blaming her for not taking care of her son.
The man persisted in contacting the boy even after this run-in with the mother. In 2017, when he was sexually assaulting the boy in the shower room of a toilet at the centre, the boy screamed in pain.
In a 2021 report by the Institute of Mental Health, a psychiatrist noted that the boy had post-traumatic stress disorder, which has since resolved.
Separately, the man also used social networking application Grindr to find other males for sex. He found one who was under 16 years old, among others.
AUSTRALIAN AGENCIES ALERTED SINGAPORE POLICE
On April 22 in 2020, the South Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (Jacet), comprising investigators from the Australian Federal Police and South Australia Police, alerted the Singapore Police Force that an account traced to the man had been the recipient of at least 17 emails containing links to download pornographic materials involving boys aged four to 16.
The man’s residence was raided in August 2020. After initial investigations uncovered homemade child pornography that he recorded, the man was again arrested in December that year.
A total of 105 of such videos were found in his electronic devices.
A report by the Institute of Mental Health found the man to have paedophilic disorder, with a mild to moderate risk of reoffending.
‘A CALCULATED CUNNING’ IN PREYING ON CHILDREN
In delivering her decision, High Court Judge Mavis Chionh Sze Chyi said that the man had abused his relationship with the vulnerable young victims, some of whom had unquestioningly obeyed him because they had looked up to him.
“So successful was the accused at worming his way into the naive affections of his young charges that their parents came to trust him as well,” she added.
He had “systematically exploited that trust” by committing the offences in a premeditated and carefully planned manner.
“Indeed, I would say the accused exhibited a calculated cunning in the manner he preyed on the naivete and childish sensibilities of his young victims.”
Although the man had pleaded guilty, Justice Chionh said that given the 105 incriminating videos he himself had made, she was of the view that he “had little choice but to plead guilty to the proceeded charges; and it is thus doubtful that his plea of guilt indicates genuine remorse”.
For each count of aggravated sexual assault by penetration of a child below 14 years of age, the man could have been jailed between eight and 20 years, and received at least 12 strokes of the cane.