Ex-national shuttler to plead guilty to underage sex

Ashton Chen Yongzhao, now out on bail of $15,000, is charged with various offences connected to having sex with an underage girl.
Ashton Chen Yongzhao, now out on bail of $15,000, is charged with various offences connected to having sex with an underage girl.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Former national badminton player Ashton Chen Yongzhao intends to plead guilty to several offences connected to having sex with an underage girl, a district court heard yesterday.

He is now out on bail of $15,000 and will be back in court on June 27.

Dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt and grey trousers, the lanky bespectacled 28-year-old defendant was expressionless as he stood before District Judge Christopher Goh.

Chen, 28, who was first charged in April, is said to have committed his first offence in early 2014. Court documents did not reveal the nature of his relationship with the girl, who was 13 when she allegedly performed oral sex on him at a staircase landing at Block 935, Tampines Street 91.

She is said to have performed the same act on him at a multi-storey carpark at Block 248, Simei Street 2 between late 2015 and early 2016. Chen is also accused of having sexual intercourse with the minor at the same location.

In June 2016, he allegedly performed similar acts with the girl in a nursing room at Eastpoint Mall in Simei Street 6. This was followed a month later when she is said to have performed oral sex on him at a staircase landing at Block 120 Simei Street 1.

Chen's LinkedIn profile states that he had taken part in major competitions including the South-east Asian (SEA) Games, the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships.

His run as a professional badminton men's singles player ended in April 2014. He was then the men's singles world No. 69.

At one point, he reached a career-high ranking of No. 50 and was Singapore's second-ranked singles player behind Derek Wong, who was then at No. 47.

Chen first made headlines in 2007 after beating Malaysia's former world No. 1 Roslin Hashim at the Asian Satellite tournament.

He was also a member of the men's team that won silver at the 2007 SEA Games and the bronze in the same competition in 2009 and 2011.

Offenders convicted of having consensual sex with a child below 14 years old can be jailed for up to 20 years and fined or caned. Those convicted of having consensual sex with a minor between 14 and 15 years old can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each charge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2018, with the headline 'Ex-national shuttler to plead guilty to underage sex'. Print Edition | Subscribe