NTU grad appeals against jail term for underage sex

NTU grad appeals against jail term for underage sex
Ernest Lee Min Chong.

SINGAPORE - A Nanyang Technological University (NTU) graduate, who pleaded guilty to having commercial sex with a minor, is appealing against his jail sentence.

Ernest Lee Min Chong, who is out on $10,000 bail, was given nine weeks' jail by a district judge yesterday.

This was after the 25-year-old admitted he paid $60 for sex with a girl from China at Min Wah Hotel in Geylang last year. Lee was an undergraduate at NTU, while the girl was 17 at the time.

The court heard that Lee went to Geylang sometime between May 20 and May 24 last year and was approached by the minor who offered her sexual services for $60. He agreed and they proceeded to the hotel for sex.

When he asked about her age, she said she was 20, and he did not take any steps to verify this.

District Judge Mathew Joseph turned down a request by Lee's lawyer, Ranjit Singh, that a probation report be called. The defence had claimed that Lee suffered from emotional stress at the time of the offence.

The judge, however, agreed with Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz that Lee's emotional stress then was something everyone went through in different ways.

"In your case, unfortunately, you chose to cope with it by committing a criminal offence,'' said the judge.

Urging Lee to put this behind him, he said: "You are still relatively young and can still pick yourself up from the obvious misstep early in your life, and proceed to learn from this mistake and carry on.''

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