SINGAPORE - A junior college teacher who engaged in sexual activity with a 14-year-old boy he befriended on Facebook was jailed for 25 months yesterday.
Physics teacher Paul Tan Sze Aik, 37, admitted to three charges with three other offences, including having obscene films, taken into consideration during sentencing.
Undergraduate Suhaimi Shamsudin, 24, had earlier also been jailed for engaging in sex acts with the youngster.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz told the court that Tan, who already had a Facebook account, set up another one specifically to meet new friends online using the moniker "Alegon Kenny Lonewolf".
In November 2012, he sent a "friend request" to the minor, introducing himself as a 19-year-old living alone as his parents were overseas.
After chatting online, they arranged to meet.
Tan, who has been suspended from his teaching post, picked up the boy from a bus interchange on Dec 2 and took him to his mother's Bishan flat after they had lunch.
The teen was left alone for a few hours, while Tan ran errands as he was going overseas the next day.
They later went out for dinner and returned to the flat, where the boy watched television while Tan surfed the Internet and packed for his trip.
Tan left on the pretext of picking up his brother but returned alone about 30 minutes later.
At about midnight, the pair went into Tan's bedroom, where he committed an obscene act and the sexual offence.
Ms Sripathy-Shanaz called for a tough sentence, describing Tan as a "wolf in sheep's skin" and an "unscrupulous sex offender" who initiated each sexual act with the minor.
It was Tan's actions that propelled the illicit, inappropriate liaison forward purely to satisfy his carnality, she added.
"It was the accused who facilitated the offences by opening his home to the minor. The flat provided the accused with the privacy he needed to engage in a night of corrupting debauchery with a 14-year-old boy," she said.
She said the case was one of an alarming number recently involving adults engaging in sexual activity with troubled, misguided young people shortly after befriending them over the Internet.
Ms Sripathy-Shanaz argued that the court has a duty to halt this trend.
District Judge Siva Shanmugam said yesterday that young and vulnerable victims need to be protected from sexual exploitation, regardless of whether the acts were consensual.
He noted several aggravating factors in Tan's case: "The accused had full knowledge of the minor's age but this did not deter him from initiating and engaging in numerous sexual acts with the minor at the earliest available opportunity.
"The accused's unscrupulous and effective use of the Internet in befriending and exploiting the minor is yet another setback to the safety and security of young persons using the Internet."
Tan could have been jailed for up to 10 years and/or fined for having sex with a person under 16 years of age.
He could also have been fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to two years for each count of committing an obscene act with a young person.