25-year jail term for coach convicted of abusing teen student

The judge imposed a longer jail sentence on Roger Yue Jr, 60, than the one sought by the prosecution.
The judge imposed a longer jail sentence on Roger Yue Jr, 60, than the one sought by the prosecution.

Roger Yue Jr, a rope-skipping coach convicted of committing sexual offences against a student, was sentenced to 25 years in jail yesterday - after the judge made the uncommon move of imposing a sentence longer than the one recommended by the prosecution.

Describing the 60-year-old's crimes as heinous, Justice Aedit Abdullah said that "while the court should not impose a crushing sentence nor one that operates as an effective life sentence", he did not regard this as an absolute rule.

He also said that the sentence must be measured against the criminal conduct of the case in question.

"Where the offences committed are heinous, as they are here, it may be that a long sentence would need to be imposed even on a relatively older accused, and that in his circumstances, it may indeed operate to leave him in prison for the remainder of his expected life," he said.

The prosecution was seeking a sentence of at least 23 years in jail.

Last month, Yue Jr, 60, was found guilty of sexually abusing his student between 2008 and 2010. She was aged between 13 and 14 years at the time.

Yue was convicted of seven charges - two of statutory rape and five of sexual penetration of a minor. The other 41 charges were stood down.

The girl got to know Yue in 2006 when he was appointed to coach her primary school's rope-skipping team. He later invited her to join a private competitive rope-skipping team and got her to help him as he coached teams from several schools.

The victim said Yue sexually abused her until late 2010. Eventually, she told her polytechnic lecturer and counsellor about what Yue had done to her. She made a police report on April 28, 2014.

Yue, who remained expressionless as the sentence was read, is expected to file an appeal. He is out on bail of $80,000, with a requirement that he reports monthly to the investigating officer.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Winston Man had said in his submission that key aggravating factors in this case included Yue's abuse of trust and the premeditation in committing the offences.

He said: "(Yue) exhibited no qualms in abusing the victim's trust and his position as her rope-skipping coach... In this capacity, he utilised his frequent interactions with the victim, which were centred on rope-skipping training sessions, to perpetuate the acts of sexual abuse against her. An appropriately stiff punishment is necessary to discourage like-minded potential offenders from replicating the criminal conduct exhibited by (Yue)."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline '25-year jail term for coach convicted of abusing teen student'. Print Edition | Subscribe