Indian-origin Singaporean jailed for raping runaway girl

The bar owner faces 22 more charges relating to five other victims, mainly for sex offences, according to a report by "The Straits Times". These charges are pending in court.

Singapore: An Indian-origin Singaporean bar owner was sentenced to jail for 13 years and four weeks on Monday and will receive nine strokes of the cane for raping a runaway 17-year-old girl after allowing her to work for him.

Raj Kumar Bala, 42, was convicted of a charge each of raping and molesting the victim and pleaded guilty to a third charge of harbouring a runaway under the Children and Young Persons Act, Channel News Asia reported.

Defence lawyer Ramesh Tiwary said his client has asked to be released on bail pending appeal, according to the channel’s report.

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The court heard that the victim was 17 in February 2020 when she ran away from the Singapore Girls’ Home.

She found out about a job opportunity at Bala’s Don Bar and Bistro in Dunlop Street in the Little India precinct of hotels, motels and eateries through another runaway who was working there.

The other runaway was also sexually assaulted by Bala in a charge that stood down for the time being.

The victim went down to the bar to interview for the job and met Bala, who described the job duties to her, including serving customers and making drinks.

He offered her the role, saying she could stay at the bar with other runaways.

The victim worked at the bar for a few days, but police received a tip-off about people who absconded and worked there. They raided the place in the early hours of February 22, 2020.

The victim fled with another girl to escape the raid, before being picked up by Bala.

He drove them to his condominium, telling them they could stay there, before drinking alcohol with the girls.

He raped the victim while she was heavily intoxicated and also engaged in sex acts with the other girl.

The victim left the condo and surrendered herself to the home in July 2020, but told her case worker only in August 2020 that she was raped.

Justice Mavis Chionh noted the “considerable personal harm” inflicted on the victim, who blames herself as to how she came to be in an intoxicated state that led to her rape.

Her testimony in court, which was corroborated by her former boyfriend, illustrated how the trauma from her past would be revived in a way that negatively affects her well-being, the judge noted.

She said Bala knew that the victim was young and on the run from police, and she was dependent on him for income and shelter.

Bala faces other pending charges and is yet to make a decision on what he intends to do with them, according to the report.

The bar owner faces 22 more charges relating to five other victims, mainly for sex offences, according to a report by “The Straits Times”. These charges are pending in court.

He is accused of raping and molesting a victim identified in court documents as B1, raping and sexually assaulting a victim identified as B5 and raping, molesting and threatening another victim identified as B6.

He is also accused of sexually penetrating a minor under the age of 16, identified as B7, and molesting and causing alarm to another victim, identified as B8.

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