Canadian charged with raping S'pore teen

Canadian charged with raping S'pore teen

It had started innocently enough for the Singaporean teenager.

She met the Canadian man while playing an online game in 2012.

They got to know each other and he said he had "married" her in the virtual game.

She was then 16. He was 35.

According to him, the romance carried into the real world and the teenager got engaged to him and went to live with him in Winnipeg in Canada's Manitoba province

According to her, she was not romantically involved with him.

Now, James Brian Stephenson, 37, faces a slew of charges, reported the Winnipeg Free Press.

He was initially charged with assaulting the teen. As the investigation expanded, charges of sexual assault, Internet luring and child pornography were added.

Stephenson appeared in a Winnipeg courtroom last Friday where he was granted bail, despite objections from the public prosecutor.

A court-ordered ban prevents specific details of the hearing from being published.

Stephenson was first arrested last October, three months after the two and her mother began living together at his East Kildonan condo in the north-east of the city.

Court documents stated that the alleged assault occurred between July 1 and 31.

He had allegedly repeatedly raped her and took explicit nude photos of her.

'MARRIED'

The accused had previously told the Canadian newspaper that the pair had got "married" in the virtual world they were part of.

He claimed they quickly discovered several mutual interests, including music and martial arts, and continued chatting for several months.

The Singapore teen first visited Stephenson in April last year. She was accompanied by her 49-year-old mother on the first trip.

It was then that the pair apparently got engaged and did a "ceremonial celebration of marriage," which they captured on video, which was seen by a Winnipeg Free Press reporter.

It includes Stephenson on bended knee proposing to the teen, and her mother giving both of them her blessing while warning Stephenson to take good care of her daughter.

The teen and her mother then returned to Singapore so she could finish her schooling.

The mother-and-daughter duo returned to Winnipeg in July when they began living with Stephenson at his home.

Sources told the Canadian paper that "the teen and her mother got into Canada based on the fact she was apparently engaged to Stephenson".

A sponsorship process was also reportedly underway at the time the criminal allegations began to surface.

The situation was made more complicated when Stephenson told police he had been threatened and also made a report.

Justice sources confirmed to the Free Press that Stephenson said there had been repeated demands for money and threats made against him.

This culminated in the police getting involved and charges ultimately being laid against him, along with his own allegations that remain under investigation.

The two women were unavailable for comment, said the Free Press.

Sources told the newspaper that the teen is taking the position she is not involved romantically with him.

Stephenson has countered by filing a complaint with immigration officials, saying the teen and her mother are now in the country illegally.

The women's immigration status is now under review.

Stephenson is currently free on bail with strict conditions, which includes having no contact with either women, who are currently living in the city, or any children under the age of 16, the newspaper reported.

No trial date has been set.


This article was first published on APRIL 14, 2015.
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