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Man lured underage girls on Instagram to his home where he sexually assaulted them with sex toys

At least four girls aged between 13 and 17 responded to the man's Instagram messages and went to his flat.

Man lured underage girls on Instagram to his home where he sexually assaulted them with sex toys

A general view of the Supreme Court in Singapore on Sep 23, 2022. (File photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)

SINGAPORE: A man lured multiple girls on Instagram to go to his home with offers of cash or a job, but when they arrived, he sexually assaulted them with sex toys instead.

The 47-year-old man pleaded guilty on Thursday (Dec 1) to four charges including attempted statutory rape, sexual penetration of a minor and sexual grooming of a minor. Another six charges will be considered in sentencing.

He cannot be named temporarily, while the court investigates whether naming him will lead to the identification of his victims.

The court heard that the offender began randomly messaging multiple girls on Instagram from 2020. He would ask them if they needed cash or a part-time job and convince them to go to his flat, intending to perform sexual acts on them.

At least four girls aged between 13 and 17 responded to the man's Instagram messages and went to his flat. He performed sexual acts on three of these girls, while the fourth managed to leave.

The court heard that the offender messaged the first victim on Instagram in August 2020, when the girl was 13. He asked her if she needed cash, and she said she did.

The girl had just run away from a welfare home for teenage girls, where she had been placed after being caught for stealing and found to be in need of care and protection by social services.

The man told the girl that he would pay her S$200 if she went to his home and allowed him to touch her body, and she agreed.

On Aug 21, 2020, the man booked a Grab ride to pick the girl up to his home. When she entered, she saw an iPad and four S$50 notes on a table.

The offender then sexually assaulted her with a sex toy.  He later paid the girl S$200, asked her to delete their Instagram chat history and told her not to tell anyone what happened.

After this, the man continued to message the victim asking her to meet again, but she either did not reply or told him no.

GIRL AGREES TO MEET AGAIN

However, in February 2021, the girl needed money for her daily necessities. She decided to accept the offender's offer for cash and arranged to meet up with him.

She went to his home again on Feb 23, 2021. The man sexually assaulted the girl again.

The second victim was 15 when the offender messaged her on Instagram in August 2020. He offered her a job for S$200, saying it included cuddling and being his companion for two hours.

The victim did not respond to the man at first, but he kept messaging her. Finally, the girl responded to him in September 2020 as she needed money.

On Sep 28, 2020, the girl took a Grab ride to the offender's home, that he had paid for. 

The man then sexually assaulted the girl with a sex toy. 

THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY

The third victim was 14 when the offender messaged her on Instagram in December 2020, asking if she wanted a part-time job. He pretended to offer job options including waitressing and kitchen work.

He told her that the highest paying job was an "indecent one" involving the offender touching the victim's body in exchange for S$200.

He continued to message the girl between Dec 20, 2020 and Jan 5, 2021, encouraging her to accept his job.

The girl told him that she was 14 and only interested in the waitressing job, but the man kept trying to persuade her into meeting him. In messages shown in court documents, the girl repeatedly tells the offender no, saying she did not feel like it was right as she is a teenager. She also said: "I say no; like no is weird".

Eventually on Jan 5, 2021, the victim relented and agreed to meet. She went to the offender's place and saw money on the table. He told her that S$200 would be hers if she stayed for two hours.

But when he placed his arm on the victim's waist, the girl said she wanted to leave. Although the offender kept trying to persuade her into staying, the girl insisted and left.

In the next three days, the offender kept asking the girl to return to his flat, but she refused.

He was arrested on Mar 1, 2021, but no details of how his offences came to light were revealed either in court documents nor in open court.

The prosecution is seeking between 13 and 16 years' jail and 13 strokes of the cane for the accused, saying he weaponised online social media platforms to prey on young girls.

ACCUSED IMPLORES JUDGE TO GAG HIS IDENTITY

Although the man was defended by lawyer Favian Kang, he asked to speak to the court directly to ask for a gag order on his identity.

The accused said: "Me and my ex-wife, we actually feel that this gag is not for myself. For me, because once my sentence is out, I will be away for a long time. Whether they publish my name or not doesn't matter anymore."

However, he claimed that anyone could easily go to Instagram and narrow down the victims based on his account.

He added that his son went to a psychiatrist after his arrest.

"This son is very precious to me and he's very close to me. Wherever we go, we are always together. My concern is, if my identity is being exposed, he has to face the world by himself," said the offender.

He asked the judge to consider extending the gag order to his identity, since gag orders are there to protect the victim, the innocent and the helpless.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Edwin Soh objected, saying gag orders are concerned only with the interests of victims and never the interests of the accused.

"While we do sympathise, the son is not a victim," he said.

Justice Pang Khang Chau initially said family members' conditions of the accused person is not something he is empowered to take into account when it comes to a gag order.

However, the accused continued to make impassioned arguments about how a person with the right know-how would be able to identify the victims if they knew his identity and Instagram handle.

Justice Pang eventually said to the accused: "I don't think you are right on this, but I have a duty to investigate this fully. So I do temporarily impose a gag order on your identity until the next hearing.

He adjourned the case for further submissions. Sentencing will subsequently be fixed for a later date.

Source: CNA/ll

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