SINGAPORE - A self-styled religious teacher who admitted to committing sex crimes against four boys, including one he met on a dating app, was sentenced to 21.5 years’ jail and eight strokes of the cane on Jan 23.
His offences were uncovered after police officers patrolling near Changi Beach conducted a spot check on the man, who was with two boys.
He was arrested after child pornography and text messages, including one offering $75 for oral sex, were found on his mobile phone.
The 35-year-old pleaded guilty in the High Court on Sept 8, 2023, to three charges of sexual penetration of a minor. The charges related to three boys, two of whom were below the age of 14 at the time of the offences.
Another 18 charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
These include a charge for molesting a fourth boy, who was below the age of 14, as well as a charge for engaging in sexual activity with one of the boys without informing the victim that he was HIV-positive.
In a statement on Sept 11, 2023, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said the man was not and has never been registered under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS), which means he is not authorised to offer any form of religious instruction or guidance in Singapore.
Muis said the case was a timely reminder to individuals and parents to seek instruction and guidance only from ARS-registered religious teachers.
The man provided religious and Arabic language home tuition in 2013 after he returned from his studies in Egypt. He also worked part-time as a food delivery rider.
He got to know an 11-year-old boy, identified as V1, on a dating app in 2014. He told the boy he was a part-time religious teacher, and they chatted about sex.
They eventually met in person at a toilet cubicle in Hougang Mall, where the man performed oral sex on the boy.
From 2015 to 2018, they continued to meet for mutual sex acts. In July 2019, V1 tested positive for HIV, although it cannot be concluded that the man had transmitted the virus to him.
In 2017, the man got to know a 12-year-old boy, identified as V2. They played video games and went on e-scooter rides together, and the man often bought V2 and his friends food and cigarettes. He also tutored V2 in maths.
On three occasions in 2018, when V2 was 13, he allowed the man to perform sex acts on him, in exchange for $30 worth of video game credits each time.
The third victim, V3, was in primary school in 2016 when he started chatting with the man, who had followed the boy on Instagram.
After they met in person, the man often bought V3 presents, including a second-hand video game console.
Between 2017 and 2018, the man engaged in sex acts with the boy, when the latter was 14 to 15 years old.
In June 2019, a few months after the man tested positive for HIV, he did not inform V3 about it before they engaged in sexual activities.
The man was arrested later that month during the spot check. He cannot be named under a gag order to protect the identities of the victims.