SINGAPORE — A 36-year-old host who molested a German tourist couchsurfing at his residence was sentenced on Wednesday (23 June) to seven years' jail and three strokes of the cane.
Perez Ryan Edward Poquiz, 36, had performed a sex act on the victim, then 25, when he came over to Singapore in January 2019.
Perez, a Filipino then working in Singapore as a customer care officer, had claimed trial to the charge of sexually penetrating the tourist in the wee hours of the morning while the latter was sleeping.
The victim, who cannot be named due to a gag order, became acquainted with Perez via the online CouchSurfing application, where verified members may offer or request free lodging.
The victim placed a request for lodging when he visited Singapore from 9 to 11 January 2019, and Perez offered to host him during that period. The victim was aware that the host was a man and that he would share a bed with Perez.
Even though this was not the victim's preference, he agreed as the other local hosts he messaged had either rejected his request or failed to respond.
The victim and Perez met for lunch upon the former's arrival in Singapore from Yogyakarta on 9 January 2019. While he observed that Perez was physically touchy towards him over lunch, he noticed that Perez toned down his actions after the victim intentionally mentioned that he had a girlfriend.
Nothing of note happened on the first night of the victim's stay, other than Perez's suggestion that both of them practice meditation together before sleeping.
While Perez touched the victim’s arm, navel and leg, the victim did not think it was sexual. Before the incident, both had also chatted about Perez's ex-girlfriend, causing the victim to think that he had incorrectly judged Perez as gay.
The night before the incident, the victim and Perez had consumed alcohol at 1-Altitude bar before they returned to Perez's residence.
At around 11 January 2019, hours before the victim was due to return to Yogyakarta, as the victim slept on the bed, he regained consciousness and found Perez sexually assaulting him. He tried to push Perez away before pulling up his shorts.
The victim then felt Perez hug him from behind on the bed and pushed Perez away.
The victim later went to the corridor of the residence to call the police but realised his calls were not going through as he did not have enough money in his SIM card. He messaged his girlfriend at 3.07am to ask if she could urgently transfer money to his phone.
After receiving the money minutes later, the victim successfully called the police and waited until officers arrived.
For sexual penetration, Perez could have been jailed up to 20 years, and fined or caned.
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