SINGAPORE – After his release from prison, a man who worked in an animal shelter trained a 14-year-old volunteer to be his apprentice and his girlfriend.
The 41-year-old already had a four-year-old girlfriend and was infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but said none of these things to the teenage victim when he had sex sex with her up to twice a week between September and December. 2019.
He was sentenced Monday, December 13, to 13 years and two months in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of sexual penetration of a minor under the age of 16 and to five counts of failure to inform a person with who he had sex he had HIV, a violation of infectious disease law.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of mischief for cutting an electronic tag. The man and girl cannot be named due to a gag order protecting their identity. 25 other charges of a similar nature were considered for his conviction.
The man was diagnosed with HIV in the early 2010s and was told that he should inform his future sexual partners of the risk of contracting the virus. However, he failed to do so and was jailed for 18 months in 2012 for failing to tell one of his sexual partners.
She was also told to practice safe sex while taking necessary precautions, such as wearing condoms. He was undergoing treatment and was last tested on July 23, 2019 for his viral load, which was found to be undetectable. Separately, the victim tested negative for HIV infection.
In January 2019, the man was released with remission for a store theft offense when he decided to volunteer at an animal shelter. He was quickly employed by a co-owner of the shelter and was promoted to head coach working at the shelter six days a week.
The victim’s aunt brought the victim to the shelter on July 6, 2019 after the victim expressed interest in volunteering. The victim and her aunt were introduced to the man, who taught them how to take care of the dogs.
On the victim’s next visit, on July 13, 2019, the man approached her to ask if she wanted to participate in the shelter’s group chat. The victim agreed and gave him his contact.
Later, the co-owner of the shelter learned that the girl was only 14 years old and said she was too young because the volunteers had to be at least 16 years old. The accused then pleaded for the girl to be allowed to join as a volunteer.
The accused told the co-owner that the victim came from a broken home and was not doing well academically, the prosecution said. He added that the victim may wish to work at the shelter as a trainer after graduating, according to the prosecution.
The man told the co-owner that “it would be a waste not to let the victim learn and become a trainer at the shelter, and that she could get lost if she was not accepted as a volunteer.”
The co-owner then gave in and the victim then became the only volunteer at the shelter under the age of 16.
Between July and December 2019, the girl volunteered every Saturday and was placed under the direction of the accused as an apprentice. They started to exchange messages and would meet for breakfast every Saturday before heading to the shelter.
The two started dating in late August 2019. He started calling the girl “princess” and “dear” via text message.
In September 2019, the man started inviting the victim to the room he shared with his girlfriend. He did so in the absence of his owner to avoid arousing suspicion. They started to engage in unprotected sex acts.
They would then shower together before heading to the shelter.
The man’s girlfriend had no idea that he was engaging in intimate acts with a minor. The man had lied to the victim, saying that he shared the room with his mother and that his last relationship was 20 years ago. He told her that age didn’t matter when it came to love, and that he wanted to marry the victim in 10 years and have her baby.
He also told her that a man who refused to have sex with her a second time was “untrustworthy”.
The offenses were discovered when the victim’s brother came across his messages around November 2019 while using his phone. He told his father, who filed a police report.
Appearing by video link unrepresented, the man said he was “very ashamed and remorseful” for his offenses, promising that this would be the last time he offended.
âMy loved one and my mother have accepted me againâ¦ I know it will be a long sentence and I ask for mercy,â he added.
District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said he agreed with the prosecution’s arguments as the case was one of the “most egregious” encountered in relation to the sexual penetration of a minor.
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