Canadian man who befriended Singaporean girl in online game charged with rape

WINNIPEG - A Canadian man has been accused of raping a Singaporean girl after she visited him in Canada.

Winnipeg native James Brian Stephenson, 37, had met the then-16-year-old girl in an online video game in 2012, reported Canadian broadsheet Winnipeg Free Press.

The pair hit it off quickly and chatted for several months, Stephenson told the paper. He also claimed they got "married" in the game they frequented online.

The girl, accompanied by her mother, then flew to Winnipeg in April 2014 after she turned 18 to meet Stephenson.

A video viewed by the paper showed the pair getting engaged and doing a "ceremonial celebration of marriage" during the visit.

She returned to Singapore to complete her studies, before mother and daughter returned in July the same year to live with Stephenson in his condominium in East Kildonan.

It was during this period that the Winnipeg police said Stephenson began to sexually abuse the girl, which included rape and taking explicit nude photos of her.

Stephenson is also facing additional charges of sexual assault, Internet luring and child pornography, although he had repeatedly maintained his innocence to the paper.

He was granted bail after appearing in a Winnipeg courtroom on April 10, despite objections from the Crown.

According to the paper's sources, the girl and her mother managed to enter Canada based on the fact that she was engaged to Stephenson. She has since denied having a relationship with him.

No trial dates have been set.

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