Public prosecutor decides not to appeal Joshua Robinson sentence

Public prosecutor decides not to appeal Joshua Robinson sentence

The four-year sentence for the American MMA instructor having sex with two 15-year-old girls drew public criticism.

SINGAPORE: The public prosecutor has decided not to appeal against the four-year jail sentence for the MMA instructor who had sex with two 15-year-old girls and filmed them, Singapore's Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said on Wednesday (Mar 8).

Robinson's sentence last Thursday sparked an online petition, which has garnered nearly 27,000 signatures to date. The person who started the petition called the sentence "unacceptable and absolutely intolerable".

In a statement, the AGC gave its reasons for the sentence. It said the prosecution took into consideration the fact that securing a guilty plea from Robinson would spare three young victims the trauma of testifying and being cross-examined at trial.

The 39-year-old American had pleaded guilty to nine charges which included having sex with the two girls, making obscene films and showing an obscene clip to a six-year-old girl.

The AGC noted that Robinson "did not commit sexual assault". Both victims had consented to the sexual acts and because they were above 14 years old when the incidents happened, Robinson did not commit the offence of statutory rape, said the AGC in its statement.

It added that the most serious charge that the prosecution could have brought on the facts of the case was the offence of sexual penetration of a minor under 16 years of age, and that caning is not provided for any of the offences he was charged with.


(Table: Attorney-General's Chambers)

The AGC added that the prosecution had sought a sentence of four to five years' jail and this position was made known to the defence counsel and to the district court at a pre-trial conference last September. This position was also conveyed to Robinson before he made his decision to plead guilty, said the statement.

SENTENCING IN LINE WITH PRECEDENTS: AGC

Noting "public attention" on the case and calls from some members of the public for a harsher sentence, the AGC said that Robinson's sentencing is "broadly in line with relevant sentencing precedents".

In one case, 21-year-old Qiu Shuihua received an initial four-month sentence for having sex with a 14-year-old girl, pressuring her into the encounter by telling the infatuated teenager that he would break up with her if she did not have sex with him. The prosecution appealed and in April 2015, the High Court sentenced him to 10 months in jail under section 376A(2) of the Penal Code.

In Robinson's case, he was also found guilty and jailed for additional charges of making and possessing obscene films. Enforcement officers seized 5,902 obscene films, including 321 films of child pornography, from his apartment. This is believed to be the largest collection of child pornography seized from an individual in Singapore.

"Following careful review of the matter, the public prosecutor has decided not to appeal against the sentence," said the AGC statement.

It added that in discharging its duties, it does not differentiate between Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans.

"The AGC will be discussing with the Ministry of Law whether the relevant legislation should be reviewed to enhance sentencing for some of the offences," it said.

The maximum sentence for sexual penetration of a minor under 16 is 10 years' imprisonment, a fine, or both. Sexual penetration of a minor under 14 is punishable by up to 20 years in jail and a fine or caning.

Source: CNA/mz