UPDATE: This article has been updated to include response from Seeking Arrangement.
As her sugar daddy, he provided her with a monthly allowance of $1,600 and also had sex with her despite knowing that she was underaged.
On Tuesday (20 February), 45-year-old Adrian Tan Lee Guan was sentenced to 24 months’ jail after he pleaded guilty to three counts of having sex with a minor under the age of 16. Two of these counts involved having oral sex with the girl while one count involved penile penetration.
Two counts of having oral sex with the girl were taken into consideration for Tan’s sentencing.
Tan had met the girl – who was then 15 years old – in November 2016 through the sugar-dating website Seeking Arrangement, which connects women with men who can provide the former with financial support in exchange for companionship. Such sites have recently caught the attention Members of Parliament who spoke out against them in Parliament earlier this month.
The girl, who is now 17, cannot be named to protect her identity. Tan, a former business development director, is married with a seven-year-old son but is currently undergoing divorce proceedings.
The pair began chatting on WhatsApp and came to an agreement that Tan would pay the girl a monthly allowance of $1,600 for her companionship, which included having sexual intercourse with her. The girl then told Tan that she was 15 years old.
Knowing this, Tan still arranged to meet the girl on 15 December 2016. After taking her to dinner at the Pan Pacific Hotel, the pair then proceeded to the Capella Hotel on Sentosa.
Tan brought the girl to the first tier of the hotel’s cascading swimming pool where he asked the girl to perform oral sex on him. She complied.
Later that night, as he was sending the girl to the Nex Shopping Centre, Tan stopped his car near a bus stop in Bishan where he again asked the girl to perform oral sex on him and she agreed.
Three days later, the two met at a void deck of a HDB block in Hougang where the girl collected her $1,600 allowance. Tan then drove the girl to a nearby multi-storey carpark where the girl performed oral sex on him.
After the encounter, Tan asked the girl to move to the back set of the car and the two had sexual intercourse.
The girl later informed her school about the encounter and a police report was made.
In mitigation, Tan’s lawyer Kannan S G said that his client – a former business development director drawing a salary of $10,000 a month – has since lost his job. Tan’s wife has also filed for a divorce and he has also been forced to move to a rental flat.
The lawyer said that his client had faced increasing credit card debts – amounting to $37,000 – in the period leading up to the offence and was depressed as a result.
“He felt responsible for the mounting debts and recurring interest on unpaid debt amounts,” said the lawyer.
A psychiatric assessment conducted on Tan in July 2017 also found him to have been suffering from an adjustment disorder with depressed mood at the time when the offences were committed.
Tan’s lawyer added that the encounter between the two was a “paid transaction” and that no force or coercion was involved. Kannan also pointed out that the girl had falsely declared her age on the website.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Raja Mohan sought a sentence of 24 months, arguing that Tan had sexually exploited a girl three times younger than him and “had no qualms” about degrading her.
The DPP pointed out that even though Tan had claimed to have financial debts, he had spent lavishly on the girl. Given that the offences took place on multiple occasions, Tan also could not claim a momentary lapse of self-control, added the DPP.
For sex with a minor under 16, Tan could have been jailed up to 10 years and/or fined on each count.
In response to queries from Yahoo News Singapore, a spokesman for Seeking Arrangement said that the company is “not in the business of connecting people with children”.
“If a member is reported for being underage, they are immediately suspended pending proof of date of birth. If a member can not furnish the proper, legal documentation, (usually a government-issued picture ID), they are banned from the site,” said a spokesman in an e-mail.
He added that the company set up an Underage Task Force in April 2017 to train its staff to identify potentially underage profiles, create “strict guidelines” for the business’ age-verification process and to take “real-time action” against members reported as being underage.
However, he noted that it was not possible to detect all the underage profiles.
“Many people are dishonest online and even though we have safeguards in place, with a membership base of over 13 million people some profiles are bound to slip through the cracks,” he said.