SINGAPORE - Former national badminton player Ashton Chen Yongzhao, who is accused of committing consensual sexual acts with an underage girl, intends to plead guilty to his offences, a district court heard on Monday (June 4).
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 with grey trousers, the lanky bespectacled man 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 against the minor in early 2014. Court documents did not reveal the nature of their relationship.
The girl was 13 years old 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 there.
In June 2016, he allegedly performed similar acts with the girl in a nursing room at Eastpoint Mall in Simei Street 6. She is said to have performed oral sex on him at a staircase landing at Block 120 Simei Street 1 a month later.
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 teams that took silver at the 2007 SEA Games and bronze at the 2009 and 2011 editions.
For each charge, 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.