Singapore: Former policeman sentenced to 19 months for not disclosing his HIV status to sex workers

July 27, 2019

Source: Yahoo News Singapore, July 26, 2019

SINGAPORE — A former policeman who rented out his one-bedroom Geylang flat to three prostitutes and demanded sexual services from two of them was on Friday (26 July) sentenced to 19 months’ jail and a $2,500 fine.

The 52-year-old man had also wilfully avoided informing the women that he carried the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

He had also threatened to create trouble for one of the prostitutes if she did not provide her services to him.

The man had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of living off the earnings of prostitutes and one charge of letting his rental unit be used as a brothel. He also admitted to two counts of engaging in sexual activity without informing the other party of his HIV status.

Another four similar charges were considered in sentencing.

The man’s name cannot be revealed due to a court-imposed gag order.

Under the Infectious Diseases Act, HIV-positive persons are obliged, prior to sexual intercourse, to inform their partners of their condition and to obtain their acknowledgement of the risks involved. A person who fails to do so can be fined up to $50,000 or jailed up to 10 years, or both.

Demanded sexual services

In January 2017, the man – who was then working as a security guard – began renting the one-bedroom flat in Geylang with the intention of letting his partner live there. When his partner disappeared, he advertised the unit in a group chat that was populated largely by prostitutes.

On 19 June that year, a 33-year-old Chinese national told him that she wanted to rent the unit to carry out sexual services.

The duo later met to discuss the terms of the lease and the man asked for sex. He used his status as a former police officer to persuade the woman, who agreed out of fear of getting into trouble with the law.

They had protected sex after she insisted that he use a condom. She was not paid for her services.

The two then agreed on terms for the rental of the flat for the woman’s work.

On 22 June, the man again requested to have sex but the woman put off meeting him. He then accused her of allowing her partner to stay at the flat.

The man also increased the woman’s daily rental fee, telling her that the unit was “a work room, not a love nest”, according to the prosecution.

The man chased the woman out the next day, threatening to call the police on her. He refunded her a balance of $600 before she left.

The man allowed a second woman, a 39-year-old China national, to rent the unit for the same purpose between 24 June and 4 July.

A third woman, a 33-year-old female China national, rented the flat between 5 July and 11 July.

The man also engaged in sexual activities with the third woman without telling her that he was HIV positive.

According to the prosecution, both women would not have had sex with the man had they been aware of his HIV status.

Sent e-mails to health ministry

On 4 April 2017, the man sent an e-mail to the health ministry stating that he had sex with a prostitute whom he suspected of having a sexually transmitted disease. He requested that the authorities investigate and repatriate her.

Four days later, he e-mailed the ministry again and revealed that he was HIV positive and that the condom he used had broken while he was having sex with the prostitute he previously mentioned.

The ministry’s surveillance and enforcement branch investigated the matter.

The man first suspected that he had contracted HIV in Thailand in 2003 but did not seek treatment. He was formally diagnosed with the disease in May 2008.

Viral load ‘not detectable’

Between December 2016 and July 2017, the man’s HIV viral load was “not detectable” – meaning that he had low to no chance of infecting his sexual partners. He had been consistently taking HIV medication during the period.

He collected about $2,500 in total from all three women and used the money for personal expenses.

The 39-year-old woman was arrested on 4 July after police officers conducted a raid at the unit.

The man was arrested on 11 July when police officers ambushed him at his workplace.

For running a brothel at his rental unit, the man could have been jailed up to three years or fined up to $3,000. For living off the earnings of a prostitute, he could have been jailed up to five years and fined up to $10,000.

He will begin his sentence on 16 August.