Teen runaway from girls' home allegedly raped by Little India bar owner who gave her job, place to stay

Selina Lum
The Straits Times
Aug 10, 2023

The owner of a bar in Little India went on trial in the High Court on Thursday for raping a 17-year-old girl who worked for him after she ran away from Singapore Girls’ Home.

Prosecutors contend that Raj Kumar Bala, 41, molested and raped the victim between the night of Feb 21, 2020 and the early morning of Feb 22 at a rented flat.

The alleged victim is now 20 years old.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Yvonne Poon and Chong Kee En said in their opening address that 13 witnesses had been lined up to prove that Raj Kumar had committed the offences as charged.

One witness, identified in court documents as B1, was also a runaway from the home who had been working and staying at Raj Kumar’s bar in Dunlop Street. 

She had come to know about the job opportunity from B2, another runaway from the home who was similarly working and staying at the bar.

Prosecutors said B1 had been sexually assaulted by the accused, but as she was a runaway and pregnant, she continued to seek shelter at the bar.

In February 2020, the alleged victim and a friend went to interview for a job at the bar after B2 told her about the opportunity.

Raj Kumar hired them, and told the alleged victim that she could stay at the bar with B1 and B2, whom he knew had also run away from the home. The friend stopped working there after a day.

On the night of Feb 21, 2020, the bar was raided by the police after an acquaintance of the runaways made a report that they were working there.

Raj Kumar picked up the three runaways, drove them to a rented flat and told them they could stay there. He gave them food and alcohol, and arranged for bar staff to bring their belongings over.

At the flat, Raj Kumar asked the girls to drink with him, and the alleged victim became heavily intoxicated, said the prosecution.

He then allegedly engaged in sexual acts with the purported victim and B1 on the second level of the flat.

Prosecutors said B1 witnessed him raping and molesting the victim, who was too drunk to fend him off.

The next morning, the alleged victim told B2 that she had been raped. She left the flat later that day, but returned to the bar once to collect her pay.

She then stayed with another friend, and told him about the rape two to three weeks later.

She eventually surrendered herself to the home on July 20, 2020, and told her case worker from the Ministry of Social and Family Development on Aug 5, 2020 that she had been raped.

Raj Kumar is defended by Mr Ramesh Tiwary.

If convicted of rape, he can be jailed for up to 20 years and also be fined or caned. If convicted of molesting the girl, he can be jailed for up to two years, fined and caned.

The Straits Times

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