Jail for HIV-positive man who had sex with 14-year-old girl, told her age did not matter if they were in love
SINGAPORE - An HIV-positive man released from prison in January 2019 returned to a life of crime later that year by having unprotected sex with an underage virgin who was unaware of his health condition.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Ong said the offender had invited the 14-year-old girl to his home 17 times over three months and they had intercourse up to two times weekly.
The court heard that she did not contract HIV.
The 41-year-old Singaporean man was on Monday (Dec 13) sentenced to 13 years and two months' jail after he pleaded guilty to 11 charges, including multiple counts of having sex with a minor as well as offences under the Infectious Diseases Act.
Twenty-five other charges were considered during sentencing.
The pair cannot be named due to a gag order to protect their identities.
The man was diagnosed with HIV infection in July 2011 and was counselled the following month. He was told he had to inform potential partners about his condition before having sex with them. He was also counselled on safe sex practices.
He was later sent to jail for shoplifting and released from prison in January 2019.
The man has been receiving treatment for his condition and his viral load was found to be "not detectable" when he was last tested on July 23 that year.
In a statement unrelated to the court case, the Ministry of Health said earlier this month: "HIV-positive individuals who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load have practically no risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners."
The man first met the minor at his workplace in July 2019 and the pair started communicating privately via platforms such as WhatsApp the following month.
The man had a long-term girlfriend at the time and was living with the woman. But he told the girl that he was single and living with his mother.
The minor, who agreed to be his girlfriend in August 2019, went to his home the following month and the man took her virginity by having unprotected sex with her. The pair had sex multiple times there soon after.
The man did not tell her of the risk of contracting HIV from him nor obtain her voluntary agreement to accept that risk before they had sex.
The court heard that this was because he feared losing her and was afraid of what she would think of him.
DPP Ong said: "When the victim told the accused that she was 14 years old, the accused replied that age did not matter if they were in love. The accused also told the victim that he wanted to marry her in 10 years and wanted to have a baby with her.
"The accused further told the victim that a man who had sex with her once and refused to have sex with her a second time was an 'untrustworthy man', and that if a man frequently wanted to have sex with her, it meant that the man loved her very much."
The offender also told the girl that he "loved her very much" and that was why he frequently had sex with her.
His offences came to light in late November 2019 when the girl's brother used her mobile phone and saw the messages his sister had exchanged with the man.
The brother alerted their father, who lodged a police report on Dec 2 that year.
Separately, the court heard that the offender was on July 27 this year expected to admit to his charges but failed to turn up in court. Instead, he cut off an electronic tag on his ankle and threw it away before going to work. He was later caught and placed in remand.
For each charge under the Infectious Diseases Act, the man could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $50,000.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.