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The Straits Times
August 7, 2023
Starting from when he was 14 years old, over a period of seven years, a man with a foot fetish committed sexual offences against 28 known victims.
He molested younger children in the neighbourhood where he lived, his schoolmates and national service bunkmates, and took photographs of his victims’ hands and feet between 2013 and 2020.
He also licked the bare feet of several boys he met online or chanced upon. In some cases, he falsely claimed to be an ambassador for a camera brand to entice his victims with the promise of prizes or collaborations.
On Monday, the man, who is now 24, pleaded guilty in the High Court to 10 charges – two for sexual penetration of a minor, five for aggravated outrage of modesty and three for outrage of modesty.
Another 33 charges will be taken into consideration when he is sentenced on Aug 14.
He cannot be named because he was below the age of 18 when he committed some of the offences.
Prosecutors said he preyed on children at a playground near his house from 2013 to 2016.
In August 2013, he suggested to a seven-year-old girl and her younger brother that they play hide-and-seek, as an excuse to separate the siblings so that he could sexually assault the girl.
He told the girl to follow him to a tunnel within the playground, where he made her touch him sexually, made her perform a sex act on him, and took photos of her hands and feet.
Other victims included the accused’s classmates and juniors at his secondary school between 2012 and 2015.
In 2013, he exposed himself and moved a classmate’s hand downward, but the classmate pulled his hand away in time. The classmate reported the incident to his teacher, and the accused was sent for counselling.
In February 2015, the accused and other students from his co-curricular activity were on a bus returning to school when he asked a junior sitting next to him to let him massage the victim’s hand.
After getting down from the bus, the victim realised that the accused likely caused his hand to touch the older boy’s genitalia.
The accused was suspended from his CCA after the victim and his parents complained to the school. The accused’s mother also took him to see a psychiatrist.
In 2018, while he was doing his full-time NS, the accused molested a sleeping bunkmate and took photographs of the victim’s feet.
On Feb 28, 2020, the accused entered his former secondary school wearing his old school uniform, and approached a 13-year-old student, claiming that he needed to film an interview.
The accused took the victim to a staircase at a nearby mall, and began to photograph the boy’s palms and bare feet.
The accused then made the boy face the wall and put one hand behind his back, and told him to squeeze the object that would be placed in his hand. The accused then filmed the sexual contact between him and the boy.
The victim called his domestic helper to tell her what had happened. His parents were informed, and a police report was lodged the same day.
The accused was arrested on March 12, 2020, and released on police bail.
On Aug 15, 2020, another police report was lodged against him, concerning his offences against three other boys who were between 13 and 14 at the time. The accused was re-arrested on Aug 19, 2020, and released on police bail.
On Oct 8, 2020, the seven-year-old girl he molested in 2013 confided in her teacher about the assault. The girl realised what the accused had done after attending sexual education classes and watching a documentary about sexual assault with her mother.
The accused was re-arrested on Oct 15, 2020, and has been remanded to date.
A psychiatric assessment by the Institute of Mental Health found that he had a fetish for the hands and feet of 13- and 14-year-old boys.
On Monday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En sought 15 to 20 years’ jail and at least six strokes of the cane. He argued that the accused continued to reoffend despite various forms of intervention and while on police bail.
Defence counsel Josiah Zee asked for 13 to 15 years’ jail and not more than six strokes of the cane. He argued that the man’s culpability should be seen in the light of his young age at the time of the offences.