24th man convicted in case of commercial sex with a minor

24th man convicted in case of commercial sex with a minor
Former construction worker Li Zhiguang was sentenced to 11 weeks in jail after he admitted paying $60 for sex with the then 17-year-old from China at a hotel in Geylang in May last year.

A chinese national became the 24th man to be convicted of engaging in commercial sex with a girl forced into prostitution.

Former construction worker Li Zhiguang, 38, was jailed for 11 weeks yesterday after he admitted paying $60 for sex with the then 17-year-old from China at a hotel in Geylang in May last year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz said the minor had sought the help of Tang Huisheng, 37, and his sister as she needed money for her late father's medical debts.

Tang, also a Chinese national, acted as her pimp and forced her to work here as a prostitute, on the threat of hurting her family.

On a day between May 21 and 24 last year, she approached Li near Lorong 22 Geylang and asked if he wanted to go to a hotel.

He understood she was offering him sexual services, and they had sex.

He took her word that she was 19, and did not verify her age.

The minor was arrested on June 1 last year near Lorong 22 on suspicion that she had been involved in providing commercial sex to men while underage.

So far, 26 men have been hauled to court. Two have yet to be dealt with.

Li's lawyer A. Rajandran said his client, a father of one, had been an exemplary employee, and his employers stood behind him.

He said had Li known or had any reason to believe or suspect the girl was a minor, he would not have engaged her.

But District Judge Toh Yung Cheong said it was Li's responsibility to verify her age.

"The fact that you asked for her age suggested that you have some knowledge that it was important. It would have been simple for you to look at her passport, but you did not do so," he said.

The maximum penalty for obtaining commercial sex from a person below 18 is seven years in jail and a fine.

This article was published on April 26 in The Straits Times.

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