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Singapore-based internet star in court for allegedly raping Tinder date

Singapore-based internet star in court for allegedly raping Tinder date
Lev Panfilov faces two counts of rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of molestation.
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

SINGAPORE - A TikToker and former scriptwriter-actor with local YouTube comedy channel, Wah! Banana, has been accused of raping a woman he met on dating app Tinder.

The assault allegedly happened in his bedroom after he had taken her back to his home to work on her script.

Lev Panfilov, 27, a permanent resident who is originally from Russia, faces two counts of rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of molestation.

He is accused of committing the offences on the night of Jan 12, 2021 at the three-bedroom River Valley condominium unit he shared with two roommates.

He is contesting the charges in a High Court trial that has been set for 12 days. He is defended by Mr Anil Balchandani and Mr Ashwin Ganapathy.

The woman, who was then 30 years old, cannot be named owing to a gag order.

Panfilov has more than 27,000 followers on TikTok, where he posts comedic videos about life in Singapore, often speaking in Singlish.

In an interview with The Straits Times in 2022, Panfilov, who came to Singapore in 2010, said he picked up Singlish in secondary school, but it was during his national service that he used it on a daily basis.

On Tuesday, in opening the prosecution’s case against him, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana told the court Panfilov and the woman met over Tinder.

The prosecutor said the woman decided to match with the accused on Tinder because Panfilov had stated that he was a scriptwriter on his Tinder profile.

“As the victim was trying to write a script at the material time, she thought that she could obtain advice and feedback from the accused,” she said.

The DPP said Panfilov and the woman exchanged text messages on Tinder and WhatsApp, before arranging to meet in person for the first time at a restaurant at Robertson Quay.

The two worked on the woman’s script over dinner, and at closing time, he suggested they continue working at his apartment. She agreed.

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There, the woman took out her laptop as she sat with him on his bed, said the DPP.

The two then watched YouTube videos of various comedians, discussed comedic principles and worked on her script.

The DPP said: “After some time had elapsed, however, the accused showed his true colours, and the facade of civility he had presented throughout the evening crumbled away.”

She added Panfilov forced a kiss on the woman and escalated his sexual assault on her, ultimately raping her.

She said the assault only ended when the accused had satisfied himself. He then told the woman she could leave, and booked her a private hire vehicle home.

The prosecutor said in the days after the assault, the woman continued to experience pain in her lower abdominal region, and sought medical treatment.

The victim struggled to decide whether or not to make a police report.

She only did so after her mother saw her crying in her room on Jan 18 and asked what had happened.

The trial continues.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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