Jail for man who married his underage victim

SINGAPORE - He had sex with an underage girl, then 15, and later married her.

But that did not get the 32-year-old divorcé, who has a six-year-old daughter from his previous marriage, off the hook.

Yesterday, the accused, who used to work in a computer-related job, was jailed a total of 18 months, backdated to Nov 1.

Besides four counts of having sex with a minor, he faced another 27 charges which included forgery, cheating, criminal breach of trust and acting as a director when he was an undischarged bankrupt.

Of the 31 charges, 15 were proceeded with while the rest were taken into consideration during sentencing. The accused and the victim cannot be identified due to a gag order.

A district court heard that the victim was only about 12 or 13 years old when she got to know the accused while playing an online game.

They remained friends for about two years until December 2011, when they became a couple. The accused wanted to have sex with her and when she agreed, he drove her to a hotel in Geylang.

Although he knew the victim's age, he had sex with her anyway. She was only 15 years old then.

They had sex three more times between January and February last year at his flat.

By then, the girl, who was studying at a secondary school in the eastern part of Singapore, was living with him.

About a month later, the girl found out that she was pregnant.

He decided to marry her after the girl's mother was informed.

According to the girl, they got married last November in Indonesia.

But he could not get away from the law.

During an investigation into the forgery and cheating cases he was accused of, an investigation officer from the Central Police Division noticed his young wife.

After further questioning, both of them admitted to having sex when she was still underaged.

The court also heard that the girl, now 17, is seven months pregnant.

Under the Women's Charter, a special marriage licence granted by the Ministry of Social and Family Development is needed for civil marriages where either party is below 18 years old.

FIRST CASE OF ITS KIND

Deputy Public Prosecutor Victor Lim pressed for a custodial sentence because at the time of the offence, the couple were not married and she was below 16 years old.

District Judge Mathew Joseph said that this case is the first of its kind where a victim in an underage sex case is now married to the accused.

He said: "Law exists to protect minors because of their immaturity. We don't want them to be exploited." After sentencing, he told the accused he hoped that he would "put this behind you for the sake of your wife and unborn child" and to "refrain from further criminal acts".

The victim, who was in court yesterday, told The New Paper she is having a baby boy.


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