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The Straits Times
Sept 7, 2023
A 20-year-old man who had unreciprocated feelings for a female friend told her that there were ghosts following her, while assuring her that he was a temple medium who could get rid of the spirits for her.
Over several days in 2019, under the pretext of performing consecration rituals, the man sexually exploited the 22-year-old woman, escalating from molesting her to eventually raping her.
He even tried to get her pregnant so that she would be forced to remain with him.
On Thursday, the man, who is now 23, was sentenced to a prison term of 18 years, 11 months and three weeks, and 16 strokes of the cane.
He pleaded guilty in the High Court to two charges of rape and one charge of sexual assault by penetration.
Four other charges were taken into consideration. The offences took place between July 22 and 27, 2019.
He cannot be named under a gag order to protect the identity of the victim, who is now 25.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Emily Koh told the court that the man and the woman first got to know each other in secondary school.
The victim addressed the man as “kor”, meaning elder brother, despite him being younger than she was.
In mid-2019, the man contacted the victim on Facebook, and they rekindled their friendship.
He drove her to and from work and had dinner with her and another friend. He developed romantic feelings for the victim, but she was still interested in her former boyfriend.
Shortly before the offences were committed, the man told the victim that he had been helping at a temple and was a medium for the rabbit companion of Chinese mythological character Chang Er. He also took her to the temple.
On July 21, 2019, while they were at the victim’s home, the man told her that there were spirits following her and her sister, and that there were ghosts in the flat.
He assured her that he could perform consecration rituals to get rid of the ghosts, so that no harm would come to the two women.
To perpetuate the ruse, he gave the victim some amulets and talismans.
During these “rituals”, the man chanted prayers and drew talisman markings on her body with his finger.
The victim was fully clothed on the first few occasions. Subsequently, the man told her that she had to take off all her clothes, and deceived her into believing that sexual acts were part of the rituals.
During one purported ritual on July 25, 2019, he convinced the victim that sex was required as part of the ritual.
The prosecutor said: “He had only told the victim that it was necessary for the consecration ritual because he knew that the victim would not agree to having sex with him otherwise.”
After a second rape on July 27, 2019, the woman was advised by her friends to lodge a police report after she told them what he had done to her. She did so two days later.
On Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana sought 17 to 23 years’ jail and 16 strokes of the cane.
She argued that the element of premeditation in the case was further aggravated by the degree of deception involved.
She added that the victim – who was assessed in 2020 to have below average range of functioning – was defenceless against falsehoods the man had spun.