Judge raps ne­ti­zens for neg­a­tive com­ments about rape vic­tim

He says such be­hav­iour could de­ter other vic­tims of sex­ual crimes from seek­ing help

Today - - SINGAPORE - AL­FRED CHUA al­fred­chuam@me­di­a­corp.com.sg

SIN­GA­PORE — Call­ing out peo­ple who had made dis­parag­ing com­ments on­line about a rape vic­tim, a High Court judge said their be­hav­iour could de­ter other vic­tims of sex­ual crimes from seek­ing help from the author­i­ties.

The peo­ple who ex­ploited the anonymity of the In­ter­net to do so were not only caus­ing dis­tress to the vic­tim, but were also be­ing “dis­re­spect­ful of court pro­cesses”, said Ju­di­cial Com­mis­sioner Aedit Ab­dul­lah, who added that “where ap­pro­pri­ate, ac­tion should be taken” against them by the rel­e­vant author­i­ties.

“Those who make such com­ments have to re­flect ... that that kind of be­hav­iour would dis­cour­age vic­tims of of­fences from com­ing for­ward,” the judge said. “(Th­ese com­ments) serve no pur­pose other than al­low­ing (the com­men­ta­tors) to mouth off ... and play up their (own) prej­u­dices.”

He made the com­ments dur­ing a hear­ing yes­ter­day for con­victed rapist Ong Soon Heng, who had ab­ducted a drunk and un­con­scious 22-yearold

(Th­ese com­ments) serve no pur­pose other than al­low­ing (the com­men­ta­tors) to mouth off ... and play up their (own) prej­u­dices. Ju­di­cial Com­mis­sioner Aedit Ab­dul­lah

stu­dent af­ter a group out­ing to a night­club, and raped her at his house at Hume Heights.

The 40-year-old bunker sur­veyor was found guilty in July of rap­ing the vic­tim, who was then an in­tern at a diner run by Ong’s friend, while she was in a drunken stu­por.

Since the case was first re­ported on in March, some have posted neg­a­tive com­ments about the vic­tim, in­clud­ing blam­ing her for what hap­pened be­cause she had gone out drink­ing with a man. The vic­tim, who can­not be named to pro­tect her iden­tity, was at­tend­ing a co-worker’s farewell party. She was lo­cated via the Find My iPhone app by her boyfriend at that time.

With­out spec­i­fy­ing the com­ments he was re­fer­ring to, JC Aedit said th­ese can have a “neg­a­tive im­pact” on peo­ple, in­clud­ing ac­cused per­sons, who are in­no­cent be­fore be­ing found guilty.

At the hear­ing yes­ter­day, pros­e­cu­tors and de­fence lawyers sub­mit­ted to the court what they felt should be the sen­tence im­posed on Ong.

Deputy Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tors Sel­laku­maran and Siti Adri­anni Marhain called for at least 14 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane.

“The ac­cused’s prey­ing on the vic­tim in her com­pletely de­fence­less con­di­tion is made all the more ab­hor­rent by the fact that the ac­cused had abused her trust in do­ing so,” said the pros­e­cu­tion, not­ing that Ong was some­one the vic­tim looked up to and trusted.

The vic­tim had also told the court that she re­garded Ong as her friend. “The vic­tim’s ca­pac­ity not to con­sent was not merely com­pro­mised but com­pletely ab­sent,” they added.

De­fence lawyers Su­nil Sud­heesan and Diana Ngiam, how­ever, asked for a sen­tence of 10 years’ im­pris­on­ment and six strokes of the cane for their client.

They ar­gued that while a vic­tim may be vul­ner­a­ble when ine­bri­ated, vul­ner­a­bil­ity ex­ists on a spec­trum.

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of vic­tims who are young or men­tally dis­abled was more ag­gra­vat­ing than tak­ing ad­van­tage of a vic­tim who was ine­bri­ated, the lawyers added.

Ong will be sen­tenced at a later date. He faces up to 20 years in jail and can­ing for the of­fence of rape. He can be jailed up to seven years and fined for ab­duc­tion.

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