SINGAPORE - A 62-year-old man who was employed by the People's Association (PA) as the manager of a residents' network sexually preyed on a 15-year-old intellectually disabled girl after getting to know her family.
He took the teen for outings and got her to put up posters in the neighbourhood. Following that, he would take her to his office, where he violated her and took photographs of her in the nude.
The victim was a student at a specialised school, and has an IQ of 66. An average child's IQ is 100.
After he was caught in the act by the chairman of the grassroots organisation, the man begged to be given a second chance, and offered to pay for his mistake in a "win-win situation" by giving the victim's family $200 a month.
A residents' network is a grassroots organisation under PA which is set up to, among other things, promote social cohesion among residents.
On Monday (Sept 18), the accused, who is now 64, pleaded guilty to three charges of exploitative sexual penetration of a minor, committed on three occasions between Dec 5 and Dec 20, 2021.
Another 15 charges, including three for producing child abuse material and two for obstructing the course of justice, will be taken into consideration during sentencing.
The man, who is no longer with PA, cannot be named owing to a gag order to protect the victim's identity.
An offender who commits sexual penetration of a minor below 16 faces up to 20 years' jail and can also be fined or caned, when the offender is in an exploitative relationship with the victim. In any other case, the maximum punishment is 10 years' jail and a fine.
In the current case, the relationship is considered exploitative owing to the victim's age, the age difference between the accused and the victim, the nature of their relationship, and the degree of the man's influence over the victim.
The case was adjourned to October for sentencing, after Justice Mavis Chionh asked for further submissions, noting that this was the first prosecution of the offence after it was introduced in 2019.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Teo told the court that the man was responsible for organising events for residents and helping families in need.
He got to know the victim's family, which also comprised her younger sister and grandaunt, in 2015. The family was identified as a household in financial need.
He helped the grandaunt, who was the family's sole breadwinner, to find jobs and occasionally bought food for the family. In turn, the grandaunt regularly helped out at events organised by the residents' network.
She grew to trust the man and had no reservations about him being left alone with the victim, said the prosecutor.
The victim also volunteered at events, and the man noticed that she was generally very obedient and a slower learner than her younger sister.
The victim held the man in high esteem as she knew he used to be a school teacher. He also helped her with her schoolwork.
On Dec 1, 2021, after getting permission from the grandaunt, the man took the girl to Jewel Changi Airport. There, he took several photos of the girl, which he later sent to her grandaunt.
After the outing, he took the girl back to his office, where he blocked the view of a surveillance camera before carrying out sexual acts on the girl and taking photos of her bare body.
Four days later, he again took the victim to Jewel Changi Airport before sexually violating her at his office.
On Dec 13, with permission from her grandaunt, the man got the girl to help him put up posters around the neighbourhood.
Back in his office, he carried out sex acts on her, and also took 78 photographs and recorded four videos of his acts.
On Dec 20, he again sexually violated her in his office after she helped him put up posters.
This time, he told her to pose for him and took 106 nude photos of her. He also showed her a pornographic video and offered her money to perform oral sex on him.
The man's trousers were lowered when the chairman walked into the accused's office, though he left quickly.
Later that day, the man called the chairman to seek forgiveness and pleaded with the witness to keep quiet. The following day, he messaged the chairman to ask for a second chance and offered money to the victim's family.
However, the chairman had already raised the matter to the director of the constituency, who lodged a police report on Dec 22. The man was arrested on the same day and is remanded in custody.