SINGAPORE - The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) will not be appealing against the jail sentence meted out to American mixed martial arts instructor Joshua Robinson.
In a statement on Wednesday (Mar 8), AGC also clarified that Robinson did not commit "sexual assault" as pointed out in comments by members of the public.
The latest development follows an acknowledgement by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam that the AGC was looking into the case due to "public disquiet" over the sentence.
Robinson, 39, was sentenced to four years' jail after being found guilty of nine charges on March 2 of having sex with underaged girls and possessing child pornography.
Court documents showed that he had pressured two 15-year-old girls into having sex with him, and he was also accused of showing an obscene film to a 6-year-old child, AFP reported.
Many felt that Robinson's sentence was not severe enough, and an online petition calling for a harsher sentence has attracted over 26,000 signatures so far.
After a review of the matter, AGC gave the following explanations for its decision not to seek a heavier sentence:
1. It had sought a sentence of four to five years' jail. Robinson was jailed four years.
2. It took into account that because Robinson had pleaded guilty, the three young victims would not have to go through the trauma and having to testify and be cross-examined in a trial.
3. Responding to public comments that "sexual assault" had occurred, AGC clarified that as the two underage girls were over 14 at the time of the sexual acts, Robinson had not committed statutory rape. Under Singapore law, having sex with a minor under the age of 14 constitutes statutory rape.
Moreover, as the two victims had consented to the sexual acts, Robinson could not be charged with rape or outrage of modesty, and therefore these were not cases of "sexual assault".
AGC reiterated that Robinson had been charged with the offence of sexual penetration of a minor under 16 years of age, which was the most serious charge that the Prosecution could have been brought against him.
4. Responding to suggestions that Robinson should also have been sentenced to caning, AGC noted that caning is not provided for any of the offences he was convited of.
The AGC noted that the sentences imposed in this case were broadly in-line with relevant sentencing precendents.
The statement said: "In light of the sentencing position which the Prosecution had conveyed to Robinson and the fact that his subsequent plea of guilt had spared the victims from the ordeal of a trial, the Public Prosecutor will not be appealing against the sentence."
AGC also assured that it does not differentiate between Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans when discharging its duties.
It added that it will discuss with the Law Ministry about whether the relevant legislation should be reviewed to enhance sentencing for some of the offences.