Ex-Straits Times journalist jailed 1.5 years for sex with minor

Straits Times scholar Eisen Teo, 28, had his scholarship revoked and was sacked by the paper on allegations of underage sex. (AFP file photo)

Former Straits Times journalist Eisen Teo was on Monday sentenced to one and a half years in jail for two charges of having sex and oral sex with an underage girl.

In one charge, the 29-year-old former Singapore Press Holdings scholar, who is married, had oral sex with the girl, who was then 15 years old, in a male toilet cubicle at Fort Canning Park. This took place “in the early months of 2012”, according to court documents.

In another, he had sex with her in a study room in his flat at Serangoon Avenue 1 in June 2012 while his wife was baking in the kitchen. A third charge of him having oral sex with her between November and December 2011, in a house off Upper Paya Lebar Road, was taken into consideration for his sentencing.

Teo joined the newspaper in 2009, and worked with the Schools team, which produced two weekly magazines for primary and secondary school students. He was a mentor for student journalists at the “IN Crowd” media club, which the girl, now 17, was a part of when he first met her in 2011.

According to the Statement of Facts, presented in court by Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong, Teo first took special interest in the girl when he learned from reading her blog that she was clinically depressed, suffering from insomnia and was being bullied in school.

After maintaining close contact with her through email, WhatsApp and Facebook messages, they became a couple in the last quarter of that year. She was 14 at the time. Teo did not tell the girl he was married until early 2012, though, and would only say that he had a girlfriend, adding that they were not in a committed relationship. He and his wife tied the knot in October 2010.

When he finally admitted that he was married, Teo lied once again, telling the girl that he and his wife had an “open relationship” that allowed them both to have other sexual partners, and that they had gotten married in order to purchase an HDB flat.

Teo’s offences came to light when the girl attempted suicide in a toilet cubicle two days after they had sex in his flat. She was found in a toilet cubicle with her arms slashed and she had overdosed on Panadol. It was when she was recuperating in hospital that her older sister and father discovered that Teo and her had exchanged messages with sexual content on Facebook and WhatsApp.

The girl’s father then attempted to contact Teo without success, and sent a lawyer’s letter to him to warn him against contacting her. A few months later, the girl confided in her sister about having sex with Teo, and she filed a police report in December that year.

Teo will begin his sentence on 24 June. He could have been jailed up to 10 years for each for the underage sex charges.