SINGAPORE: The actions of a supermarket employee helped to foil a man who was propositioning an 11-year-old girl for sex in January 2020.
The man, now 53, pleaded guilty in the State Courts on Tuesday (Mar 15) to a charge of attempted sexual exploitation of a child.
Another charge of use of criminal force will be taken into consideration for sentencing on Wednesday.
The victim and offender knew each other as they lived in the same housing block. They would make small talk when they occasionally saw each other around the area.
Prior to the incident, the girl regarded the man as a "friendly and caring" person, the court heard.
The offender's name was redacted from court documents, and the victim's identity is protected by a gag order.
At about 6pm on Jan 10, 2020, the victim left her house to attend a tuition lesson. She took the same lift as the offender.
The two made small talk and walked together towards a nearby supermarket. Outside the supermarket, the offender asked the victim if she needed money.
When the girl said no, he persisted and asked a few more times. She felt that the man was behaving strangely, but eventually relented and said okay.
The man asked her to follow him to another block, where he held her wrist and brought her near a bicycle bay.
He cupped her face with his hands softly, without her consent, and asked her a question that alluded to a sex act a few times.
The girl grew fearful as a result of his actions, and felt annoyed and offended at being touched. She did not understand the offender's question, so she replied "What?" and walked off, saying she was late for tuition.
However, the offender persisted and followed the victim back to the supermarket, where he bought her a bottled drink. He then asked her to follow him to a public area outside a nearby clinic.
There, the offender asked the victim the same question alluding to a sex act, and then told the victim to perform a sex act.
This made her feel disgusted, scared, annoyed and offended, the court heard. When the girl replied "What?" again, the offender asked her: "How much do you want?"
The victim became very fearful as she understood that the offender wanted her to perform a sex act on him. She quickly walked off, but the man called after her and followed her.
Outside the supermarket, the victim approached an employee for help, saying that the offender was disturbing her. The employee asked her if the man was her father, and the victim said he was not.
The offender told the employee he was just helping the girl to buy a drink. He extended his hand towards the victim, but was blocked from touching her.
The employee told the man to leave the victim alone, and he left. She then told her supervisor about the incident.
The supervisor asked the victim what had happened, and she told him the offender had asked her to perform a sex act.
The supervisor then accompanied the victim to an LRT station, telling her to scream if the offender approached her again.
Both supermarket workers observed that the victim appeared very nervous and afraid, with the supervisor noting that she was trembling.
The victim lodged a police report later that night after her tuition lesson. The offender was arrested five days later.
Under the Children and Young Persons Act, the punishment for attempted sexual exploitation of a child is a jail term of up to five years, a fine of up to S$10,000 or both.
The punishment for use of criminal force is a jail term of up to three months, a fine of up to S$1,500 or both.