SINGAPORE - A young man was supposed to be a mentor on a programme for troubled teens. But he ended up sexually abusing one of them instead.
The 24-year-old was sentenced to 28 months' jail on Friday (Sept 22) for sexually abusing a girl, then 14, six times.
However, the former youth leader of a non-profit organisation is appealing against the sentence and conviction. Bail of $20,000 has been granted.
He came to know the girl in February 2015 when he was one of the youth leaders at a programme for troubled teenagers who are at risk of criminal behaviour. The victim was a participant in the programme.
Between Sept 6 and Nov 17, 2015, he persuaded the victim to engage in sexual acts with him.
After an eight-day trial, he was found guilty earlier this month of making the girl do an obscene act at a multi-storey carpark in Eunos Crescent on Sept 6, 2015; sexually abusing her at his flat in Eunos Crescent twice in early October; and three more times at the multi-storey carpark between October and Nov 17 that year.
On Nov 25 that year, eight days after she had consensual sex with the accused, the girl made a police report after confiding in her godfather about her fear of getting pregnant. Her godfather told her mother about this.
In her brief remarks earlier, District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim found the victim to be a truthful witness. She said the victim did not exaggerate her account and was forthright in conceding whenever she could not remember.
"She has fared well under intense and thorough cross-examination, and, more importantly, on the material parts, she has stood her ground and her evidence remained intact, unscathed and consistent," she said.
Judge Hamidah said what she found significant was a message the girl sent to the accused after they met on Nov 17, 2015, raising her concerns that she might get pregnant after having unprotected sex with him.
The accused, the judge said, did not dispute receiving such a message from the minor but he could not explain why the girl would do such a thing.
He claimed to have responded to the girl's message by telling her that he did not have sex with her, but for reasons unknown, he deleted this message.
The judge said: "Again, it defied logic that despite being confronted with the fact that the minor had unfairly alleged that he had sex with her, the accused chose to still contact her after Nov 17, 2015 to meet up with her."
The accused denied committing any offences against the minor, except conceding that he hugged and kissed her on the lips.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Raja Mohan argued that the accused's evidence was uncorroborated and replete with glaring inconsistencies.
The prosecution said that instead of retaining the victim's messages, the accused did the direct opposite - he deleted them and changed his mobile phone in late November 2015, just days after the girl told him that the police would be coming for him.
The accused, defended by Mr Peter Ong, could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to five years for committing an indecent act with a young person.
The maximum penalty for sexual penetration of a person under 16 years of age is 10 years' jail and a fine.