SINGAPORE (ANN/THE STRAITS TIMES) – A 17-year-old promoted two underage girls, one being his friend’s ex-girlfriend with a child, as social escorts in a provocative Telegram chat group.
The victims, aged 16 and 17 during the incidents, later offered paid sexual services to multiple individuals.
On November 30, the teen pleaded guilty to six charges, which included offences under the Women’s Charter and Prevention of Human Trafficking Act.
The teen and his victims, identified only as V1 and V2 in court documents, cannot be named owing to a gag order.
Court documents said he got to know V1 from a friend who was the girl’s ex-boyfriend and father of her child.
In June 2022, V1 needed money to support her baby and asked the teen to recommend jobs that paid “fast cash”.
The teen became a member of the Telegram chat group in July 2022, and was allowed to post advertisements in the chat.
He then told V1 he had found a “high-paying” job for her, but she would need to provide sexual services.
She would earn up to USD500 from each booking and pay him USD100 commission each time. V1 accepted this arrangement.
The teen asked V1 for sexually provocative photos and personal details to advertise her services on the chat group.
Despite knowing she was only 16, the teen claimed in the ads that she was a 17-year-old social escort.
In total, he found at least five customers for V1. Some had paid sexual intercourse with her.
In January 2023, V1 introduced V2 to him, as V2 was also interested in providing sexual services to earn money.
By this time, the teen had become the administrator of the Telegram chat group.
He asked V2 for her pictures and details to post on advertisements, and subsequently found at least four customers for her.
A 34-year-old customer, identified as Muhamad Reduan in court documents, said he engaged V2 twice for sexual services.
He later called the police and said he had been scammed. It was not clear from court documents what the “scam” was.
Upon their arrival, police officers saw Muhamad Reduan with both V1 and V2.
Muhamad Reduan admitted he knew V2 was 17, but claimed he thought the legal age for engaging in paid sexual services was 16 years old.
The legal age for engaging in commercial sex in Singapore is 18 years old.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jia En said Muhamad Reduan and the other customers of the victims will be dealt with separately.
After the police were called to meet Muhamad Reduan, V1 texted the word “Police” to the teen.
Understanding his operation was compromised, the teen changed the title of the chat group to an innocuous name. He also logged out of his Telegram account and deleted chats with customers on his digital devices.
For this, he was charged with more offences of obstructing the course of justice.
Investigations revealed the teen had offered to waive some commissions from V1 and V2 if they had sex with him. They refused and paid him instead.
DPP Tay said the victims were clearly vulnerable, and the teen took advantage of this.
“(He) demonstrated absolutely no qualms with recruiting his friend and another young victim into the corrupting world of vice,” said the prosecutor.
Calling for a reformative training suitability report, DPP Tay said: “The conduct of the accused clearly points towards a sustained pattern of criminal conduct which befits a sterner form of rehabilitative sentence.”
Reformative training is a more severe punishment than probation and results in a criminal record. It involves being detained in a reformative training centre for six to 12 months to attend rehabilitative programmes and counselling.
Deputy Principal District Judge Kessler Soh noted the teen’s young age and the fact that this was his first offence.
The judge called for both reformative training and probation suitability reports.
The teen will be back in court in December to receive his sentence.