Prominent figure in Singapore’s Catholic community charged with sexual offences against teenage boys

Today [Singapore]

January 20, 2022

By Louisa Tang

A man in his 60s, who is a prominent figure in the Catholic community here, was charged on Thursday (Jan 20) with sexual offences against at least two teenage boys more than a decade ago.

The Singaporean cannot be named due to a gag order issued by the courts, which bans the publication of his identity, designation and occupation, the alleged victims’ identities and the school where the alleged offences took place.

Gag orders are usually imposed when there is a need to protect the identity of the victims or witnesses. These typically involve crimes where sexual violence or children are involved and the gag orders last indefinitely.

The accused faces two charges of carnal intercourse against the order of nature, which falls under Section 377 of the 1985 revised edition of the Penal Code that was repealed in 2007.

He was also charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of a child or young person under the Children and Young Persons Act.

Court documents stated that sometime between Jan 1, 2005 and Dec 31, 2006, the man allegedly engaged in oral sex with the older boy, then aged between 14 and 16.

He then purportedly made the younger boy, then aged between 14 and 15, do the same sometime between April 2007 and December 2007.

The man is further accused of committing an indecent act with the boys in 2005 and 2007 by performing a sex act on them.

On Thursday, the man’s lawyer Edmond Pereira told the court that he is not recording any plea at this stage.

A police prosecutor asked for the accused to be remanded in the prison’s Complex Medical Centre (CMC) for psychiatric observation, in order to find out if he was “suffering from an abnormality of mind that could have impaired his mental responsibility for his acts”.

However, Mr Pereira said that his client had not been told of the possibility of being remanded on Thursday, and asked if he could report for the remand period on Monday.

The defence counsel noted that the accused was called up by the police in “May last year” and returned to Singapore from abroad to address these matters.

They then gave the investigation officer several psychiatric reports and he was then told a few days ago that he would be charged in court, Mr Pereira added.

District Judge Terence Tay initially said that he would defer the remand issue till next Monday, and set the accused’s bail quantum at S$30,000. But after speaking to his client, Mr Pereira then told the court that he has chosen to be remanded immediately.

The accused’s bail conditions include staying away from the vicinity of the alleged incident location, as well as not contacting the alleged victims and any other prosecution witnesses.

He will return to court on Feb 10 following his psychiatric evaluation.

Those convicted of committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature can be jailed for life or jailed for up to 10 years and fined.  

Those convicted of indecent acts with a young person can be jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$5,000, or punished with both.