SINGAPORE, June 27 — Over a span of 16 years, a man sexually preyed upon children with learning or physical disabilities by posing as a qualified educational therapist to gain their parents’ trust.
Today, the Singaporean, now aged 54, was sentenced in the High Court to 45 years’ jail — the longest sentence ever meted out here for sexual offences, prosecutors said.
Justice Ang Cheng Hock described it as an “exceptionally sickening sexual abuse”, with the prosecution branding it “one of the worst cases of paedophilic sexual abuse that has come before the courts”.
The man’s offences came to light only by accident in 2018 when a woman bought his old laptop. Several obscene photos and videos, showing him sexually assaulting the victims, were automatically imported from a cloud drive into the laptop.
He later admitted to investigators that he would watch child abuse material online and wanted to “try” the same on real-life subjects. He has since been diagnosed with paedophilic disorder.
Two of his eight victims were only five years old when he began raping them. This typically took place in their own homes, his home or in public locations such as toilet cubicles in malls.
He pleaded guilty to six counts of aggravated rape. Another 80 charges — including sexual exploitation of a minor, molestation and attempted aggravated rape — were taken into consideration for sentencing.
He cannot be named due to a court order imposed to protect the identities of his victims, who were aged between five and 13 at the time of his offences from 2002 to May 2018. He was aged between 35 and 50 at the time.
He also dated the mother of two of his victims, whom he met while volunteering at a cultural dance group from 1998 to 2004.
Wanted ‘ready pool of children’
The court heard that between 2005 and May 2018, he worked part-time as a tutor.
To the parents of some victims, he misrepresented himself as a qualified educational therapist with a graduate diploma in psychology, as well as a diploma in learning disorders management and child psychology. He also made these same claims on his social media account.
He managed to obtain the second diploma only in October 2012.
Prosecutors told the court that he gave tuition to “gain access to a ready pool of children”, including children with disabilities.
When he was arrested on June 11, 2018, he was not formally employed anywhere but worked ad-hoc as a tutor for children, including those with special needs.
He previously worked as an IT administrative officer but was terminated in February that same year when the department shut down.
The court further heard that he had a history of watching pornography, including child sexual abuse material, on the internet. He admitted that he found such material interesting and wanted to “try” the same on children in real life.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Ong told the court: “Some of his offences were committed after he had watched a mixture of Japanese adult and child pornography, gotten aroused, and thereby decided to satiate his lust upon the victims.” Court documents detailed how he sexually assaulted three victims.
One of them, identified as V1, had to undergo speech therapy at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital when she was four years old.
In 2015, he introduced himself as an educational therapist to the girl’s mother and said that he was part of a non-profit organisation. She then engaged him to tutor and provide speech therapy lessons to her daughter.
The girl’s family formed a close relationship with him and often invited him to have meals with them.
However, he betrayed that trust by beginning to take obscene and nude photos of the girl. He then molested and ultimately raped her multiple times in 2017. She was between six and nine years old.
He often distracted her with games or videos on his mobile devices while assaulting her.
Thirty-eight of the charges, including three of aggravated rape and two of attempted rape, were in relation to her. Some of her soft toys later tested positive for his semen.
Targeted two siblings
In 1998, he also volunteered as the chairman of a youth executive committee. Details of this were not revealed in court documents.
From then until 2004, he helped to teach a cultural dance group and choreograph dances. This was where he first became acquainted with the mother of two of his victims.
When she told him of her son’s attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis, he lied that he had studied psychology and offered to tutor the boy, who also had to use a hearing aid.
The man grew more involved in the family’s personal lives between 2006 and 2009. He financially provided for them, helping to care for the boy and his sister when their mother had to work part-time or work the night shift.
Sometime in 2007, he began dating the older woman. The family then moved to his Woodlands flat.
He acted as though the children were his own, looking after them and regularly watching movies with them in the cinema. However, he then repeatedly raped or assaulted them for several years until he broke up with their mother in 2015.
On June 3, 2018, a 40-year-old Filipino woman bought his laptop for S$280 (RM890.40) and collected it from him at Admiralty MRT Station.
While trying to transfer some personal photos to the laptop several days later, she clicked on a red notification icon. Obscene photos and videos were then automatically imported into the device.
Police officers arrested him on the evening of June 11 that year. They found more obscene photos and videos of the assaults, as well as two pairs of children’s underwear belonging to one of the victims.
He possessed at least 3,253 obscene films, court documents showed.
When he was examined at the Institute of Mental Health, psychiatrist Derrick Yeo observed that he was “very inconsistent” in his accounts of the sexual offences.
He claimed selective memory loss and that he heard voices occasionally asking him to perform sexual acts on the victims.
Dr Yeo assessed that he was lying about these psychotic symptoms in order to minimise his criminal responsibility, and that he was at a “very high risk of repeated sexual offending against young female victims”.
The man will be 80 if he is released from prison upon being granted one-third remission for good behaviour.
For each offence of aggravated rape, he could have been jailed for up to 20 years and fined or caned. Those aged 50 or above cannot be caned under Singapore law. — TODAY