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Man jailed for paying minor for sex after he found her selling used underwear online

SINGAPORE — After chancing upon a teenage girl who was advertising her used underwear online, John Tae-Hyun Kaaiohelo propositioned her for sexual services.

Man jailed for paying minor for sex after he found her selling used underwear online
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  • John Tae-Hyun Kaaiohelo contacted a 17-year-old girl whom he saw was advertising used underwear online
  • He arranged to met her at his office building during lunchtime and paid her S$150 to perform a sex act
  • His lawyers claimed Kaaiohelo did not know he was breaking the law since the age of consent for sex in Singapore is 16 years old
  • Commercial sex, however, is prohibited for anyone under the age of 18 years

SINGAPORE — After chancing upon a teenage girl who was advertising her used underwear online, John Tae-Hyun Kaaiohelo propositioned her for sexual services.

The American man then paid her S$150 and the 17-year-old performed sex acts on him at his office building along Fraser Street.

On Monday (Sept 26), Kaaiohelo, 42, was sentenced to 10 weeks’ jail. He pleaded guilty to a single charge of having commercial sex with a minor under 18.

Another charge of possessing obscene films was taken into consideration for sentencing.

His lawyer told District Judge Eddy Tham that he had mistakenly believed that he did not break the law since the age of consent for sex here is 16 years old.

The court heard that Kaaiohelo was browsing the e-classifieds site Locanto in early 2021 in order to buy used female undergarments.

He then came across the teenager’s advertisement. The teenager was staying at a shelter at the time and cannot be named due to a court order to protect her identity.

Kaaiohelo reached out to the girl and they continued communicating through text messaging platforms Kik and Telegram.

She replied to his request for sexual services, saying that she would provide these and used undergarments for S$180.

Kaaiohelo haggled for a lower price and she ultimately agreed to S$150. She also told him that she was 17 years old.

On April 5 last year, Kaaiohelo booked a Grab private-hire ride to take her to his office building — Duo Tower in the Bugis area.

They went to a toilet for people with disabilities where she handed her underwear to him. They then engaged in a sex act before he paid her and left around 1.40pm.

On Monday, the prosecution sought 14 to 16 weeks’ jail, acknowledging that Kaaiohelo did not deliberately seek out a minor but proceeded with obtaining her sexual services despite finding out that she was only 17.

His lawyers, Mr Chooi Jing Yen and Mr Ng Yuan Siang from law firm Eugene Thuraisingam LLP, asked for a shorter jail term of eight weeks. They told the court that he did not know he was breaking the law.

“(His online) search revealed that the age of consent for sex in Singapore was 16 years old. This was not incorrect,” the lawyers said.

“The problem was that our laws are more nuanced than that — there is a sliver of an age group for which commercial sex is prohibited, and that is anyone under the age of 18 years.”

The defence counsels also argued that the teenage girl’s admission that she was aged 17 suggested that she herself did not fully understand the legality of the act, because she was a foreigner herself.

Kaaiohelo was going through a particularly challenging time in his life, which led him to browse online for a sexual outlet, his lawyers said.

They added that he will likely be deported once he has served his sentence. Court documents did not state what he was working as in Singapore.

Those convicted of having commercial sex with a minor under 18 can be fined or jailed up to seven years, or punished with both.

Related topics

court crime teenager minor Locanto sexual services underwear

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