Taiwan sex tapes: Playboy gets 22 years in jail

TAIPEI - JUSTIN Lee, the man at the centre of the most notorious sex scandal to rock Taiwan in years, has been sentenced to 22 years and four months in jail for non-consensual sex and privacy violation for filming himself having sex with several women, including celebrities.

The 28-year-old socialite was also ordered to pay NT$14.25 million (S$612,000) to 12 of his victims, who had sued him for a total of NT$75 million in damages, by the Taipei District Court yon Wednesday morning.

The panel of judges noted that Lee saved the video clips and photographs he had secretly taken of his sexual acts in a folder named "collectionz" in his computer.

"This showed that he regarded the images as trophies to be collected and savoured. This mentality is deplorable," the judges said.

But they found him not guilty of more serious charges of aggravated rape due to lack of evidence that he had drugged the women into doing his bidding. Some of the women, the judges noted, appeared to be willing parties.

Dressed in a black jacket and trousers and sporting a newly shaved head, Lee appeared solemn as he was escorted by guards out of court after the sentencing.

The one-time playboy and son of billionaire businessman Lee Yueh-tsang could have been jailed for up to 30 years on 45 counts of rape, aggravated rape and violation of privacy of 34 women.

Of his jail sentence, 18 years and six months was for Lee's sexual assault of nine women, and three years and 10 months was punishment for secretly filming 15 women having sex with him. The latter is commutable by a fine of NT$2,000 for each day of jail.

His lawyer Tsou Chih-hung told reporters that Lee will appeal against the sentence. Lee insists that his 34 alleged victims had sex with him voluntarily and admits only to filming them without their consent. He had offered to pay each of them NT$200,000 to settle the matter out of court.

"He thinks he has been wronged, and hopes that we can help him regain his freedom," said Mr Tsou.

Ms Chou Yan-tung, the agent of model Maggie Wu, one of the victims, said the sentence was too lenient. Wu, one of the most recognisable faces in the sex tapes, went into hiding for four months after the scandal broke in August last year.

"It's quite depressing," Ms Chou told Central News Agency. She added, however, that Wu was determined to put the saga behind her. The lawyers of two other women, both unnamed, told Apple Daily that they were disappointed with the sentence.

The scandal began when Next Magazine published an expose on the sexual escapades of Lee, a familiar face in Taipei's clubbing scene and who was known as a "golden bachelor".

Besides Wu, some of the women named as having been filmed having sex with Lee include well-known models Terri Kwan, Bianca Bai and Ruru Lin.

Police began investigating Lee in July 2011, after a woman reported that she had been drugged, raped and filmed by Lee.

They uncovered clips of dozens of women, many of whom were apparently unconscious, delirious or struggling while having sex with Lee. The photos and video clips spread like wildfire on the Internet.

Lee went on the run before surrendering to police 23 days later. He remains in detention while his case awaits appeal.

seokhwai@sph.com.sg

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