Former reporter had sex with minor while wife was baking
Former journalist had sex in his home with clinically depressed 15-year-old student he was mentoring
She was a troubled 15-year-old student. He was a 27-year-old journalist who acted as mentor to her in a media club.
When she confided in him about her clinical depression, he exploited her trust by gradually conditioning her for sex.
Eisen Teo Guan Kuan was so bold that he took the girl to his home, introduced her to his wife and then had sex with her while his unsuspecting wife was baking in the kitchen.
He had earlier got the girl to perform oral sex on him in a male toilet cubicle at Fort Canning Park.
Yesterday, the long-haired Teo, now 29, was sentenced to 18 months jail for two counts of sex with the girl, who cannot be named as she is a minor.
A similar charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.
District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim told Teo: "It is audacious that you committed the act when your wife was just metres away from you."
The former Straits Times journalist was part of a team that produced weekly magazines for schools, including the "IN" magazine for secondary school students.
He also conducted student activities for the "IN Crowd" media club, which met weekly at *Scape mall to produce content for the magazine.
In 2011, the girl, then 14, joined the club as a student journalist.
Teo later came across her blog and found out that she was depressed, suffered from insomnia and was bullied in school.
From then on, he paid special attention to her through e-mail, WhatsApp and Facebook messages. She in turn confided in him about her depression.
Despite being aware of her age, he became romantically involved with her and they met regularly as a couple outside of their club meetings.
As they became more intimate, they would hug and kiss, and Teo would caress her while on their dates.
Despite being married since 2010, he lied to her that he had a girlfriend, but was not in a committed relationship.
He changed his story in 2012, telling her he had married his girlfriend to get a HDB flat.
Teo also gained the trust of the girl's family, who knew nothing about their intimacy and saw him as her mentor in the club.
He grew close to her parents after warning them about one of her attempted suicides and persuading them to send her to hospital.
On one of their dates in early 2012, they went to Fort Canning Park where he suggested that she give him oral sex. As she was unsure what to do, Teo coached her for 10 minutes.
In June that year, he invited her to his Serangoon flat on the pretext of painting it.
While his wife was baking in the kitchen, they started kissing on the sofa bed in his study.
When Teo asked the girl, who was a virgin, if she wanted to go "all the way", she consented.
They then had sex before Teo took her to a nearby mall, where her parents picked her up.
Two days later, she tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists and swallowing Panadol pills in a toilet after a media club meeting at *Scape mall.
At the hospital, her father became suspicious when he noticed the close behaviour between Teo and his daughter. He confronted Teo, who denied any relationship with her.
The father and his elder daughter later went through the girl's mobile phone and found lewd messages between the two.
When the father called Teo on his phone, he did not answer. He then told his lawyer to tell Teo to stop all contact with his daughter.
Months later, the girl revealed her sexual acts with Teo to her elder sister.
As she still had depression, her mother took her to California for three months for a change of environment. The girl made a police report when she returned to Singapore.
In court, Teo, who is now a history researcher, was expressionless and silent as the facts of the case were read out.
But Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chung had harsh words for his actions, including "repugnant" and a "grievous abuse of trust".
Likening their relationship to that of "a teacher and student", she said Teo had abused his "position of authority" to make her "emotionally dependent" on him and "gradually condition" her for sex.
In mitigation, Teo's lawyer, Mr Mathew Kurian, said his client had accepted that he was wrong and was remorseful.
An elderly man, believed to be Teo's family member, was present in court but declined to be interviewed. Teo's wife did not show up.
Teo was released on $5,000 bail and will start serving his sentence when he surrenders to the court on June 24.
DPP says... Teo exploited victim's trust
His offences were "repugnant", "grievous" and would "inevitably evoke feelings of outrage and revulsion in the community".
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Amanda Chung did not mince her words when it came to describing Eisen Teo's crimes.
In asking for an 18-month deterrent sentence, she said that Teo had abused the trust of others and exploited his victim.
"(Teo) was in a position of authority as the victim's mentor. The victim would have looked to Teo for professional advice and direction... She was an impressionable 14-year-old girl," Ms Chung said.
His background as a Singapore Press Holdings scholar and the valedictorian of his graduating class at the National University of Singapore would have won her respect and trust, she added.
But instead of being a mentor to her "in a manner befitting a figure of authority", he exploited this trust by "building an emotional dependency" on him through WhatsApp and Facebook messages.
"(This) allowed him to gradually condition her for sexual activities," she added.
It wasn't just the victim who trusted him. Her parents did so as well.
Said Ms Chung: "The level of trust reposed in (Teo) by the victim's parents is illustrated by how they unquestioningly permitted the victim to spend time with him, even picking her up from the mall after intercourse."
Teo also knew the vulnerability of his victim, who suffered from clinical depression and was prone to self-harm, as he was "privy to her innermost thoughts".
A report submitted by the Child Guidance Clinic revealed that he instructed the girl to inform him every time she cut herself.
She stated in the report that she "feels stupid" to have gone along with Teo's sexual acts, but did so as she was emotionally needy.
"As an adult of considerable intelligence... it should have been clear to (Teo) that he should not take advantage of the victim in her vulnerable state," Ms Chung said.
She said his repeated lies about his marital status from the beginning of their relationship indicated he intended to exploit his victim sexually from the start.
"(He) even had the temerity to introduce the victim to his wife before having sex with the victim in his marital home."
During sentencing, District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim disagreed with Teo's defence counsel that the offences were committed in the context of a romantic relationship.
The judge told Teo: "You had known very early that she had depression... You clearly took advantage of the victim, who was young, innocent and vulnerable."
For each charge, he could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined.
A position of authority as the victim’s mentor. The victim would have looked to Teo for professional advice and direction...
— Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Amanda Chung
Wife says... I bear no grudges against him
He reached out to the girl as he had faced similar problems in his childhood, Eisen Teo's wife wrote in a letter to the judge.
Pleading for leniency, Madam Audrey Ong Zhong Jing wrote that Teo has "a compassion for others, a willingness to extend a helping hand to those more disadvantaged than him".
She added: "I bear no grudges or ill will against Eisen for his infidelity... Instead, I am greatly saddened that his attempt to help a friend has landed him in trouble with the law."
Madam Ong said that Teo "had an unhappy childhood and was severely bullied, but has since managed to shake off the trauma".
The New Paper understands that the couple were married in 2010.
Said Madam Ong: "We have grown consistently stronger and our relationship has always been fantastic. We bring out the best in each other."
Teo, whose employment at Singapore Press Holdings was terminated shortly after the company learnt of the case, now works as a history researcher.
He has a Bachelor of Arts in History (first-class honours) from the National University of Singapore.
His wife said: "(He) has many capabilities that would make him a good contributor to society.
"Even now, despite termination from his previous place of employment, he is far from spending his time idling at home.
"(We) hope to start a family in future. We are very young and have many years ahead of us... I hope that our children will not have to suffer for their father's mistake."
TEXT MESSAGES HE SENT TO VICTIM
The prosecution highlighted several WhatsApp messages Eisen Teo sent to the victim that were "explicit about his lewd desire to engage in sexual activities" with her and showed he was grooming her for "more sexually adventurous acts of Bondage Discipline Sadism Masochism:
- Can't stop thinking about what we did today.
- Again you did it like you were doing it forever. What an awesome student.
- I'll teach you more the next time round.
- Didn't have time to show you our collection of whips.
- (I would like to) help myself while you're sleepy and helpless.
- (I would) sneak into your room and do horrible things to you.
Samaritans of Singapore (24 hours)
Singapore Association for Mental Health
Institute of Mental Health's Mobile Crisis Service
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin)