Former journalist jailed 18 months for having underage sex with 15-year-old

Former journalist Eisen Teo was sentenced to 18 months' jail for having sex with a minor. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Former journalist Eisen Teo was sentenced to 18 months' jail for having sex with a minor. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A former journalist with The Straits Times (ST) was sentenced to 18 months' jail on Monday for having sex with a minor.

Eisen Teo Guan Kuan, 29, who faced three charges, pleaded guilty to engaging in oral sex with a 15-year-old girl in a male toilet cubicle at Fort Canning Park in early 2012. Teo, who is married, also admitted to having sex with her at his flat in Serangoon Avenue 1 on June 23 that year when his wife was baking in the kitchen.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong Wei-Zhen said Teo, who was a Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) scholarship recipient, was part of the ST schools team, which among other things, conducted activities for students through its IN Crowd media club.

His scope of work included providing guidance and acting as a mentor to about a dozen student journalists in the media club. Teo had first met the victim through his work at the newspaper in 2011. She was 14 at the time.

When Teo read her blog and found out that she was depressed, he started to take a special interest in her. They maintained close contact via e-mail, WhatsApp and Facebook messages.

The victim, who cannot be named, regularly confided in him about her depressive behaviour, which included cutting herself, having suicidal thoughts and hearing "voices''. They became a couple in the last quarter of 2011, meeting outside the media club activities and engaging in intimate behaviour.

Ms Chong said he did not tell the victim he was married initially, only admitting that he had a girlfriend. It was only in early 2012 that he told her he had a wife. Teo, who got married in 2010, also lied to her that he and his wife shared an "open relationship'' that allowed both of them to have other sexual partners.

He had even gained the trust of the victim's family as her mentor and helped the family organise a surprise party for her in November 2011.

On June 23, 2012, Teo invited the girl to his HDB flat to help him paint his home. He introduced the victim to his wife then.

The court heard the victim later followed Teo to a study in his flat, where they had sex while the wife was in the kitchen baking. Two days later, the girl attempted suicide in a toilet cubicle by cutting her arms and swallowing Panadol pills.

While she was recovering in hospital, her father noticed that Teo and his daughter behaving rather closely. But when confronted, Teo denied having any relationship with her.

The victim's elder sister and father later went through her phone and found several Facebook and WhatsApp messages with sexual content between Teo and the victim.

The father tried to call Teo but he refused to pick up his phone. He then sent a lawyer's letter to tell him to stop contacting his daughter.

A few months later, the victim told her sister about the sex with Teo and a police report was filed in December that year.

Teo, who works as a researcher, will start serving his sentence on June 24. He could have been jailed for up to 10 years on each charge. A third charge was taken into consideration.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.