Singapore-based TikToker on trial for raping woman he met on Tinder

Selina Lum
The Straits Times
May 16, 2023

A TikToker and former scriptwriter-actor with local YouTube comedy channel Wah!Banana has been accused of raping a woman he met on dating app Tinder.

The assault allegedly happened in his bedroom after he had taken her to his home to work on her script.

On Tuesday, Lev Panfilov, 27, a Singapore permanent resident who was originally from Russia, went on trial for two counts of rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of molestation.

He is accused of committing the offences on the night of Jan 12, 2021, in the three-bedroom River Valley condominium unit he shared with his roommates.

Panfilov is contesting the charges in a High Court trial that has been set for 12 days. He is defended by lawyers Anil Balchandani and Ashwin Ganapathy.

The woman, who was then 30 years old, cannot be named owing to a gag order.

Panfilov has more than 27,000 followers on TikTok, where he posts comedic videos about life in Singapore, often speaking in Singlish.

In an interview with The Straits Times in 2022, Panfilov, who came to Singapore in 2010, said he picked up Singlish in secondary school, but it was during his national service that he used it on a daily basis.

On Tuesday, in opening the prosecution’s case against him, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana told the court that Panfilov and the woman met on Tinder.

The prosecutor said the woman decided to match with the accused on Tinder because Panfilov had stated that he was a scriptwriter on his Tinder profile.

“As the victim was trying to write a script at the material time, she thought that she could obtain advice and feedback from the accused,” the DPP said.

The DPP said Panfilov and the woman exchanged text messages on Tinder and WhatsApp before arranging to meet in person for the first time in a restaurant at Robertson Quay.

The two worked on the woman’s script over dinner, and at the restaurant’s closing time, he suggested they continue working in his apartment. She agreed.

There, the woman took out her laptop as she sat with him on his bed, said the DPP.

The two then watched YouTube videos of various comedians, discussed comedic principles and worked on her script.

Lev Panfilov faces two counts of rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of molestation. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The DPP said: “After some time had elapsed, however, the accused showed his true colours, and the facade of civility he had presented throughout the evening crumbled away.”

She said Panfilov forced a kiss on the woman and escalated his sexual assault on her, ultimately raping her.

She said the assault ended only when he had satisfied himself. He then told the woman she could leave, and booked her a private-hire vehicle for her trip home.

The prosecutor said that in the days after the assault, the woman experienced pain in her lower abdominal region and sought medical treatment.

The woman struggled over whether or not to make a police report.

She did so only after her mother saw her crying in her room on Jan 18, 2021, and asked what had happened.

Panfilov’s lawyers said their case was that the woman had consensual sex with him.

The first witness to take the stand was Assistant Superintendent Dan Dunstan Cheang, one of the investigators who went to Panfilov’s condo after the police report was filed.

He testified that Panfilov said at the time he did not have sex with the woman.

When Mr Balchandani put it to him that it was because Panfilov was scared of being investigated, ASP Cheang said it was possible.

The woman’s testimony was heard in camera, meaning it was out of bounds to the public and media.

The trial continues.

The Straits Times

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