The friend requests on Facebook seemed innocent enough.
But little did the boys know that a monster, Yap Weng Wah, was lying in wait, ready to unleash his perverted sexual fantasies on them.
The 31 boys who had accepted "gor gor's" (big brother in Cantonese) online requests between 2009 and 2012 soon found themselves being preyed upon in what was described by prosecutors as "the worst case" of sexual violation against young boys here.
Yap, 31, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of sexual penetration of a minor and was convicted yesterday.
Another 64 charges were taken into consideration.
The Malaysian will be sentenced on a later date.
The court heard that his victims, who were aged between 11 and 15, were made to perform acts ranging from kissing Yap to performing oral sex on him.
They cannot be named to protect their identities.
Yap's method of operation was simple.
He would trawl the Internet, looking for boys who lived or who went to school near his rental apartment in New Upper Changi Road, and later in Yishun.
Once he found his targets, he would befriend them on Facebook.
Yap, who was then a quality assurance engineer, naturally, lied about his identity.
He sometimes went by the name of "Loon" or "Wai Loon", and said he was a polytechnic student here.
Sometimes, he would say he was from Indonesia.
Once he befriended the boys, Yap would chat with his potential victims for one or two weeks and, in some cases, a few months, via MSN or SMS.
He would learn more about the boys, like if they were loners or had family problems, or if they simply needed advice from a "big brother".
He would also find out what they enjoyed doing, such as watching movies, playing video games or sports.
In the course of his exchanges, Yap would also subtly bring up the subject of sex to assess his victims' sexual orientations, court papers revealed.
Once confident of Yap's supposed sincerity, the boys were open to Yap's request for a meeting.
When they did meet, Yap would usually pay for meals or movie tickets.
He would then lure them to his rental flat on the pretext of playing video games or to retrieve an item.
Most followed him without suspicion.
In his room, the acts Yap committed can only be described as reprehensible.
Yap did not just strike at home.
He also violated the boys at public places, like in toilet cubicles in shopping centres and swimming complexes, among others.
The very nature of Yap's activities strongly suggested "persuasion, cajoling and grooming the boys into submission", said Deputy Public Prosecutor David Khoo in the Supreme Court yesterday.
The court heard that most of the 12 victims whom Yap had pleaded guilty to sexually penetrating, were shocked and "did not know how to react".
At least two boys "kept their eyes closed" when he performed sexual acts on them, court papers revealed.
Yap also reassured the boys who said "no" to him, telling them that it was all right to continue with the sex acts.
One of the boys, a 13-year-old, cried when Yap penetrated him in a toilet cubicle in Kallang Basin Swimming Complex in February 2010.
In another instance, at a hotel in Bugis, Yap proceeded with the sexual act even after the 15-year old victim had told him that he "was not the type".
In all his encounters with his victims, Yap did not use a condom.
He also recorded all the sickening episodes using a camera or his mobile phone.
In some of these cases, his victims were aware that he was filming them.
But when they protested, Yap would assure them that he would delete the clips later.
He never kept his promise.
His dirty deeds exposed
He carefully catalogued all his crimes.
The victims' names, ages, the year he had met them and where the sex acts had occurred - were all filed and uploaded into folders on his laptop.
Yap Weng Wah, 31, had kept more than 2,000 video clips on his laptop showing him sexually violating the 31 boys he had filmed.
Later when he was alone, Yap would masturbate as he viewed the clips, confident that nobody would find out about his dirty little secret.
But somebody did.
In June 2012, the sister of one of his victims checked her 11-year-old brother's mobile phone and uncovered SMS exchanges between her brother and Yap.
Yap's filthy activities were finally exposed.
That same month, the boy filed a police report revealing that Yap had sexually penetrated him.
On Sept 7, 2012, Yap was interviewed by police where he admitted to having oral and anal sex with three boys.
He was then arrested.
When the police raided Yap's residence and seized his laptop and mobile phone, they soon discovered a mountain of evidence against him.
More than 2,000 video clips were found, showing Yap performing sexual acts on his victims.
Investigators pieced together the footage and compiled a list of 31 victims in Singapore which could be traced to Yap's offences.
There were also clips showing Yap engaging in sexual acts in Malaysia between 2009 and 2012.
Investigators revealed in court papers that Yap had sex with 14 boys from Malaysia who were below 16.
His trips to Malaysia were confirmed by checking his passport, Deputy Public Prosecutor David Khoo told the court yesterday.
DPP: Yap's offences showed 'high degree' of premeditation
In his mitigation, Yap Weng Wah said he had been sexually abused as a boy.
His mathematics teacher had oral sex and anal sex with him when he was 12 years old.
The abuse, which had occurred once or twice a week, lasted nine months until Yap finished school, he said in his mitigation plea, according to defence counsel Daniel Koh from Eldan Law LLP.
Yap, 31, a quality assurance engineer who came to Singapore to work in 2009, said he thought what he had experienced with his teacher were acts of love and intimacy.
In a teary appeal to Justice Woo Bih Li yesterday, Yap said: "I can't put it in words. I'm very shameful for what I've done. I wish I could turn back time. Unfortunately, I can't."
But Yap, a first-time offender, had initially not felt that way.
He told Justice Woo: "...I am terribly ashamed to ad- mit that on my first day of remand, I felt confused, I felt frightened, I felt rage and I was blaming everybody but myself."
Yap, whose family was in court, has been remanded since September 2012.
Deputy Public Prosecutor David Khoo had asked the court to impose a total sentence of not less than 30 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane for Yap.
He said Yap's offences had shown a "high degree" of premeditation and had clearly targeted a vulnerable group of victims.
Mr Koh, on the other hand, urged the court to give consideration to the time Yap had spent in remand when considering the sentence.
He said in the mitigation plea: "The time spent in remand has served as a deterrent effect on Yap. Yap is fully committed to exorcising his demons and rehabilitation."
Yap will be sentenced at a later date.
This article was first published on January 17, 2015.
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