S'porean blogger Amos Yee sentenced to six years in jail in the US for child pornography, grooming

WASHINGTON – Singaporean blogger Amos Yee was sentenced by a US court on Thursday (Dec 2) to six years in jail, after he pleaded guilty to two charges of child pornography and grooming.

Yee, 23, was also ordered by the Chicago court not to contact the victim, whom the court referred to by the initials GE, for two years after his release from jail.

Yee had also faced 16 other child pornography-related charges, which were dismissed as part of a plea deal he accepted.

According to the first charge of child pornography, Yee solicited, persuaded and induced GE to appear on video and other mediums and pose, which involved lewd behaviour, between February and July 2019.

The charge, a class one felony and second-most serious type of offence under Illinois criminal law, carried a prison sentence of at least four years and up to 15 years. 

According to the second charge of grooming, Yee knowingly used WhatsApp to seduce, solicit and lure GE to pose for photographs, which he distributed on WhatsApp, over the same period.

That charge had a minimum jail term of one year and maximum of three years.

Yee, who appeared in court via video link, was advised by Judge Carol Howard that pleading guilty to the charges meant he can be deported, denied admission to the US, or denied naturalisation as a US citizen in the future.

The convictions could also affect his ability to obtain housing, employment, and other licences including a driver’s licence, she added.

Yee, who wore a surgical face mask and orange prison jumpsuit, replied that he understood. 

Yee was 20 at the time of his offences, and living in Cook County, Chicago.

The victim, who was born in 2004, was 14.

Yee met the victim online in February 2019, over the Riot chat app, beginning an “online courtship”, said Assistant State’s Attorney Marcell Taylor.

“This defendant repeatedly requested that the victim provide him with photos showing her bare breasts, her naked buttocks, as well as engaged in role play and sexual fantasies,” said Mr Taylor.

“On several occasions, this offender did, in fact, request that the defendant engage in those roleplay and sexual fantasies by saying, ‘Show me your naked body, I want to see your breasts,’ as well as several questions of that nature,” he added.

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Mr Taylor said that the evidence showed that Yee had been told by the victim that she was 14 at the time of the offence.

During a hearing in October last year, a previous prosecutor said that Yee and the victim eventually broke up, and that he began harassing her after she repeatedly requested that he leave her alone.

Yee was previously jailed twice in Singapore for harassment and insulting a religious group in 2015, and for similar charges in 2016.

He arrived in the United States in 2016 and was granted asylum in 2017.

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