Boy sexually attacked in Gracehaven home

Victim was allegedly assaulted by four fellow residents in two separate incidents in 2018

A group of young residents at the Salvation Army's Gracehaven home off Yio Chu Kang Road allegedly attacked a 14-year-old boy and one of them sexually penetrated him with different objects, The Straits Times has learnt.

The victim was also a resident of the home, which according to its website, is for children and youths who require care, protection and rehabilitation due to risk behaviours and a lack of parental supervision.

One of the alleged attackers was charged in a district court with abetting three other youths to commit the offence. The 17-year-old youth cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the victim's identity.

According to court documents seen by ST, the four youths allegedly forced the victim to bend over before one of them partially inserted a highlighter and a marker into him.

This incident is said to have happened at the independent living unit of the home on an evening in October 2018.

The same four youths attacked the boy a second time about a month later at one of the dormitories, the court documents showed.

This time, one of them allegedly inserted part of a pen into the boy.

The Salvation Army was contacted on Dec 31 last year but ST was told to direct all queries to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

The Salvation Army said: "Gracehaven is a gazetted place of safety for vulnerable children and young persons. We are not allowed to disclose private and confidential information of our residents to the media."

 
 
 
 

On Thursday, MSF replied to ST, saying that the alleged offenders are now under different care arrangements and no longer staying at the home.

"MSF does not condone behaviours by residents of children's homes that are detrimental to the safety and well-being of other residents. In line with our policy, the Salvation Army Gracehaven (SAGH) made a police report against the alleged offenders," said a ministry spokesman. "The alleged victim had received counselling and psychological services. He is no longer staying at SAGH.

"SAGH organised workshops with the other residents of the home to reinforce positive and safe behaviours in the home."

The 17-year-old youth, who last appeared in court on Dec 30 last year, had been offered bail of $10,000. He will be back in court on Jan 20.

ST learnt that at least one of the other boys has also been charged over the incident and his case is pending.

Offenders convicted of sexually penetrating a minor can be jailed for up to 20 years and fined or caned for each charge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2020, with the headline 'Boy sexually attacked in Gracehaven home'. Print Edition | Subscribe