An unemployed Hong Kong man has been jailed for four years and three months for sexually assaulting five schoolgirls aged between 12 and 15, on most occasions under the guise of performing exorcisms.
The District Court heard Lee Pak-to, 37, had befriended all of his victims, who were from the same school, in the basketball court near where he lived, then lured them to his home or a hotel to assault them between October 2018 and June 2020.
Save for one victim, Lee claimed the girls were possessed and he performed sex acts, ranging from masturbation to indecent assault and intercourse, on the pretext of getting rid of the evil spirits.
Lee also asked one girl to spit into a bottle so he could mix their body fluids to get rid of her “bad things”.
But the girl refused and instead spat onto a tissue paper. She then left his flat, severed all ties with the man and told a social worker what happened, bringing the case to light.
The four other victims were identified during a police investigation.
District Judge David Dufton said there was a significant age difference between Lee and his victims, and the defendant “clearly took advantage” of their young age, deceiving all but one into believing they were possessed by evil spirits.
“In my view young children must be protected,” the judge said on Friday. “Deterrent sentences are required.”
Lee pleaded guilty last month to two counts of indecent assault and one each of unlawful sexual intercourse, procurement of an unlawful sexual act by false pretences, and indecent conduct towards a child under the age of 16 years.
The court heard these offences were committed following Lee’s discharge from prison in 2013, after serving a term of two years and four months over a “very serious” case of indecent assault involving a 15-year-old girl.
In a mitigation letter, Lee apologised to the victims and pleaded for an early release to take care of his parents.
A psychologist report revealed that Lee broke up with his girlfriend in 2016 and began spending more time playing basketball, through which he became acquainted with a group of teenagers and volunteered as their coach.
The psychologist said Lee enjoyed spending time with teenagers, in part because he found them more straightforward than adults, but also because they were dependent on him and looked up to him, thereby fulfilling his longing for affection and recognition, which was lacking in his adult relationships.
His offences revealed he could be attracted to teenage and even prepubescent girls, and his risk of reoffending was assessed to be at the higher end of the moderate range, the expert said.
The judge did not call for victim impact statements after learning from the school counsellor that all of the girls were doing well at the moment and did not harbour suicidal thoughts.
Dufton eventually adopted a sentence of four years and four months, before giving Lee a one-month discount to credit his volunteer work and charitable donations to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.