Ex-NTU scientist sent texts to arrange for commercial sex with children, had child abuse videos

Christine Tan
The Straits Times
Mar 18, 2024

A former scientist from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) sent messages to foreign mobile phone numbers in 2019 and 2020 in an attempt to arrange for commercial sex with children as young as 12 years old.

Jason Scott Herrin, 49, a principal research fellow at NTU at the time of the offences, was also found to have 31 obscene films and 90 photographs of child abuse after his phone was seized in August 2020.

On March 18, 2024, the American pleaded guilty to two charges – communicating with another person for the purpose of obtaining commercial sex with a minor under 18, and another of possessing child abuse material.

Another two charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

When Herrin was charged in January 2022, NTU’s website listed him as a staff scientist at the Facility for Analysis, Characterisation, Testing and Simulation.

The Earth Observatory of Singapore’s website stated at the time that he was “involved in volcano research and the study of meteorites and asteroid impacts on Earth”.

Following Herrin’s criminal charges, NTU said he was suspended and barred from the campus.

His profile is no longer available on both websites.

An NTU spokesperson said on March 18 that Herrin’s employment was terminated by the university on April 7, 2022.

The spokesperson added that the university has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct.

The court heard on March 18 that while Herrin was in Singapore on Nov 14, 2019, he sent a WhatsApp message to an Indonesian mobile phone number.

He told the recipient of the message to offer 12-year-old girls money in exchange for providing him sexual services.

In their conversation, as revealed in court documents, Herrin offered four million rupiah (S$340) for sex, and two million rupiah for a sex act.

On Feb 18, 2020, he sent a message to another foreign mobile phone number, telling the recipient to find a “kid” for him for a “high price”. Charge sheets state he intended to procure sexual services from the child.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Selene Yap said that after a police report was made regarding an unrelated matter, the police seized Herrin’s mobile phone on Aug 17, 2020, at his residence.

She did not elaborate on what the original police report was about.

A forensic examiner from the Criminal Investigation Department extracted messages, images and video files from Herrin’s phone, and found 90 photos showing child abuse.

DPP Yap said Herrin had downloaded the photos from a few websites, and has been downloading such materials since 2019.

His case is scheduled for a hearing on May 17. He is expected to be sentenced after that.

The Straits Times

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