Basketball coach sentenced to 10 years' jail for committing sexual acts on 13-year-old boy

SINGAPORE - A basketball coach who committed sexual acts on his then 13-year-old trainee was sentenced to 10 years' jail on Tuesday (Feb 27).

District Judge Mathew Joseph, who found the coach's conduct "reprehensible", said the man, now 57, had exploited the boy's innocence.

He added: "Sexual abuse cases are always disconcerting and troubling when the victims are very young...Courts will be vigilant and ever ready to send a clear signal to all potential sexual offenders who abuse their positions of trust that they will face severe sentences."

Following a five-day trial, Judge Joseph found the man guilty on Dec 18 last year of committing two sexual offences in 2013 - sodomising the minor and performing oral sex on him.

The man cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the victim's identity.

In her submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong said the man was the boy's reserve basketball coach when he was in secondary school. The teenager would go to the man's condominium in Bishan for basketball training, and was picked up from school by the coach.

During the trial, the boy testified he was in his coach's home some time in 2013 when the man carried him to a bed and sodomised him. On another occasion, the coach put a pillow over his face and performed oral sex on him, he said. No one else was in the apartment on both occasions.

The boy stopped going to the man's home later that year. He finally told his mother in 2015 as he was afraid of contracting HIV.

DPP Wong said he had asked his mother to take him for a medical check-up and later told her why. "This was the only time that she recalled the victim crying to her and he looked worried and anxious," said the DPP.

The boy made a police report on Feb 26, 2015, before taking a blood test. The results were normal.

The man was represented by lawyers RS Bajwa and Kertar Singh, who had said that the boy did not see his coach performing oral sex on him. The defence also said there was no evidence that their client had sodomised the teenager.

In his testimony, the man said he had had no contact with the boy after August 2013. He will be appealing against his conviction and sentence and was offered bail of $30,000.

Besides this case, the man has two pending charges and he will be claiming trial against them. He allegedly sexually exploited another 13-year-old boy by rubbing his body against the youngster's back and kissing the child's forehead in 2014.

For each count of sexually penetrating a minor below 14 years old, offenders can be jailed for up to 20 years and fined or caned. The man cannot be caned as he is above 50 years old.