Asia Singapore 5-year jail for prominent figure in Catholic Church for sex offences against...

5-year jail for prominent figure in Catholic Church for sex offences against teen boys

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A man who was part of a religious order of the Catholic faith when he committed unlawful sexual acts with two teenage boys here was sentenced to five years` jail on Thursday (May 5). The Singaporean, is 60 years of age and is not a priest. The offender however, had taken a vow of celibacy and was never married.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily having carnal intercourse against the order of nature and one charge under the Children and Young Persons Act.

Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPP) who argued the case said that the man had sexually groomed the boys. Although he had committed the sex acts on the boys without the use of threats, force or coercion, he had been in “a position of significant influence and authority” at the time of his offences, said the DPP.

Details about the man and his victims cannot be disclosed due to a gag order by the Court. The gag order also covers the man’s designation and appointment and the address of the incident location.

For voluntarily having carnal intercourse against the order of nature, the man could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined. For committing an offence under the Children and Young Persons Act, the man could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000, if it had been his first offence.

The Roman Catholic Church in Singapore (RCC Singapore) responded to the conviction of one of its prominent members by saying that it is with great sadness and regret that they have learnt of the case. The Archbishop of RCC Singapore, William Goh, said: “Like many of you, I am dismayed, shocked, and ashamed. Some of us are confused as to what actually took place and how this could have happened.”

He apologised on behalf of the Church and offered his heartfelt sympathy to those who have suffered on account of this crime and assured that the Church takes very seriously the provision of a safe environment, especially where children and young persons are present.

The Archbishop acknowledged that “a cloud of suspicion now hangs over those who have given themselves to live a life of service” despite many church leaders working hard to instil the values of the Catholic faith in the young.

In 2013, Singapore-born psychotherapist and author Jane Leigh, a single mother of two who now lives in Melbourne, alleged in her autobiography My Nine Lives Last that she was sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests when she was a teenager.

Starting from when she was 12 years old, she was abused for two and half years during the secluded one-on-one outings by a 34-year-old priest whom she initially met at neighbourhood mass held at her home when she was 12, he allegedly did so while picking or dropping her off when her parents were at work.

“This priest sexually abused me. He took the opportunity to do so when we were secluded – when he came to my home to pick me up or when he dropped me off in the afternoons when my parents were at work. Then he toyed with my emotions, telling me that he loved me and that he wanted to be with me,” she wrote.

After she reported the matter to her mother, she was berated for tempting the priest and sent to another Catholic priest for counselling. Consequently, church stated that they will conduct the investigations.

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