In a shocking case of online exploitation, a 17-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual acts with two underage girls met on the social media platform TikTok. The incidents occurred on separate occasions, with the defendant abruptly ceasing all communication afterwards.
Due to a court order protecting the girls’ identities, neither the defendant nor the victims can be named.
The teenager appeared in court without legal representation on Thursday (Nov 16) and admitted to two counts of committing sexual offenses against the girls, who were both under the age of 16, according to the reports.
The court also confirmed that two additional similar charges would be considered during sentencing on January 11, 2024, after assessing whether the defendant would be a suitable candidate for reformative training.
Reformative training is a rehabilitative sentencing option for offenders aged between 14 and 21. It involves a comprehensive rehabilitation program conducted within a closed and structured environment of a training center.
According to court proceedings, the teenager initially showed an interest in a 13-year-old girl after liking her videos on TikTok back in June. They continued conversing on other social media platforms such as Instagram and Telegram before eventually entering into a short-lived relationship that lasted two weeks.
During this period, they met three times, and on July 15, they engaged in sexual acts at a housing block.
As per the report, “On July 15, he met with the 13-year-old at Ang Mo Kio MRT Station before they took the bus together to a housing block along Marsiling Lane. After a conversation at the void deck of the block, they went up to one of the staircase landings where they became intimate”.
According to Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Janessa Phua, the boy subsequently instructed the girl to participate in a sexual activity, which she reluctantly engaged in for a brief period.
However, she expressed her discomfort and reluctance to continue.
After their initial encounter, they paused their conversation but then resumed before he left to meet his friend. However, he did not maintain any further contact with the girl after July 16 and ignored her numerous attempts to reach out to him through various social media platforms.
Approximately two weeks later in August, the teenager met a 15-year-old girl through mutual friends. Their conversations on TikTok and Telegram quickly turned sexual.
During this time, the girl was facing a police investigation for engaging in sexual intercourse with one of her classmates and felt isolated from her peers. Around noon on October 2, she met the teenager at a staircase landing of a housing block on Serangoon North Avenue 1 under the pretense of wanting to “hang out” before his GCE N-Level papers, the report added.
While they were hugging, the teenager expressed his desire to have sex with her.
Feeling afraid that she would lose his friendship if she declined, the girl reluctantly consented. However, after October 3, the teenager abruptly ceased all communication with her. The incident came to light when the girl’s mother checked her mobile phone on October 4.
Upon discovering the explicit Telegram messages, the mother confronted her daughter, who then admitted to having had sex with the teenager. Following the advice of a case worker, the girl’s mother decided to file a police report on October 23.
The Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Phua did not oppose the court’s request for a reformative training suitability report. She argued that deterrence should be considered alongside rehabilitation since this was not a case of consensual sexual activity in the context of a genuine relationship. It was evident that the accused had intended to exploit both victims sexually from the very beginning.
DPP Phua emphasized the gravity of the offenses and stated that reformative training would be an appropriate sentence, as it would strike a necessary balance and adequately address both sentencing considerations.
The teenager could face imprisonment for up to 20 years, a fine, or caning for performing a sexual act on a minor below 14. Additionally, for engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor below 16, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, a fine, or both.
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