Judge slams 'disrespectful' online comments on rape victim

Judge slams 'disrespectful' online comments on rape victim

File photo of a person using a smartphone. (File photo: Xabryna Kek)

SINGAPORE: A High Court judge has criticised “disrespectful” comments about a rape victim which he said were made by people taking advantage of the anonymity of the Internet.

These negative comments “have a real impact on people”, Justice Aedit Abdullah said at a hearing on Wednesday (Sep 13), adding that the comments serve no purpose other than for people to "mouth off" and air their prejudices.

He was speaking about the high-profile case of bunker surveyor Ong Soon Heng, who was found guilty in July of abducting and raping an intoxicated and unconscious 22-year-old student.

The pair had been partying with friends at Zouk on Jul 24, 2014. Ong offered to take the victim home when she passed out, but instead he abducted the unconscious woman and took her to his home at Hume Heights, where he raped her.

He later claimed that he was having an affair with the victim, who had a boyfriend.

Ong’s case attracted attention online, and many people commented on the case, some blaming the victim for what had happened to her.

Justice Aedit added such comments are “disrespectful” and “very, very unhelpful” to the victim, and may discourage other victims from coming forward. It is also “not helpful to pass comments on the accused”, he said.

His guilt must be determined by the court, the judge added.

Deputy public prosecutors Sellakumaran Sellamuthoo and Siti Adrianni Marhain urged the court to sentence Ong to at least 14 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane.

Ong had taken advantage of his friend’s “completely vulnerable condition” to abduct and rape her, prosecutors said. The victim was unconscious and “completely defenceless”, and had no memory of the rape. Her “capacity not to consent was not merely compromised, but completely absent”, prosecutors told the court.

It was the victim’s father who broke the news to her that she had been raped, after he confronted Ong and secretly recorded a confession.

When the victim testified against Ong during the trial, “her anguish was plain to see”, prosecutors said. Cross-examination by Ong’s previous lawyers had “forced her awareness of sordid details which until then had been mercifully concealed from her memory”, prosecutors added.

The victim told the court she had regarded Ong as a good friend before he betrayed her trust.

Defence lawyers Sunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam urged the court to sentence Ong to 10 years’ jail and six strokes of the cane.

Ong will be sentenced at a later date. 

Source: CNA/ad