Judge rebukes lawyer for blaming 13-year-old sex victim
For this and other reasons, he raises offender's jail term from two years to 33 months in appeal hearing
A High Court judge took a lawyer to task for blaming the victim in an underage sex case as he raised the offender's jail sentence from two years to 33 months yesterday.
Both the prosecution and defence had filed appeals after the former Nanyang Technological University (NTU) undergraduate was sentenced in February last year for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
In upholding the prosecution's appeal, High Court judge Aedit Abdullah noted the former student could have received a much higher sentence had his new lawyer persisted with his previous lawyer's victim-blaming arguments.
In his 51-page judgment, Justice Aedit devoted a whole section of about five pages to Mr S. Radakrishnan's conduct while mitigating for his client.
He said that several of Mr Radakrishnan's comments had perturbed him by alluding to the victim's "supposed promiscuity and ill repute, and being the initiator of intimacy".
"Cumulatively, Mr Radakrishnan's submissions constituted a blatant and unapologetic attempt to foist responsibility and blame on the victim," said Justice Aedit.
"Her character was flagrantly tarred, and I struggled to see what purpose such character assassination served."
The offender, now 25, met the victim in 2017 when she was in Secondary 2. They later engaged in sex acts in his home and hostel, once after watching the R21 movie Fifty Shades Of Grey.
He later became a relief teacher in her school, and the offences came to light after she told her form teacher about what he had done.
The man pleaded guilty at the State Courts last year to three charges of sexual penetration of a minor under 14. Eight similar charges were taken into consideration.
Yesterday, Justice Aedit highlighted part of Mr Radakrishnan's oral submissions that mentioned the victim's character and family background.
He also showcased photographs of the victim in what seemed to be an attempt to show her sexual maturity.
The judge said: "On Mr Radakrishnan's accounts, it sounded as though it was the victim who had been sexually predatory and led the accused astray.
"I am appalled: The accused was the adult in the situation."
Expressing his hope that no submissions of this nature will be seen in the courts in the future, Justice Aedit said: "Where such submissions are made, it may be appropriate for the court to impose an uplift to any sentence imposed to reflect a clear absence of remorse in attacking the victim in a scurrilous way."
Mr Anand George, who replaced Mr Radakrishnan in the appeal hearing, argued that his client had demonstrated a strong propensity for reform.
But Justice Aedit said he found it difficult to agree that the offender's remorse was genuine for several reasons, including initially lying and denying the allegations when confronted by his head of department and the school principal.
On his decision to increase the sentence, he also cited several reasons, including the district judge failing to give enough weight to the victim's impact statement, in which the victim spoke of having flashbacks and fears of being alone.
An NTU spokesman yesterday said the man is no longer attending classes there.
He added: "NTU takes a serious view of all criminal offences.
"Following the conclusion of court proceedings, the university will undertake internal disciplinary proceedings in accordance with our policies and processes. The conferment of the individual's degree has been withheld in the meantime."