2017-11-14 07:37:58

A 19-year-old man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after he drugged and raped seven girls — all under 18 years old — whom he met online under the pretext of offering guitar lessons. The case points to the disturbing possibility of a larger ring of drug-facilitated sexual assault.

The rapist purchased the knockout drugs from a 21-year-old man in Heilongjiang province, in China’s northeast, who in the same judgement was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for “imparting criminal methods” and assisting rape. A district court in Changzhou, a city in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, delivered its sentence on Oct. 17, China Youth Daily reported Friday. The criminal case was heard in a closed trial to protect the identity of the underage victims, and identifying information was redacted from the judge’s report.

According to the court, the rapist found the dealer on China’s ubiquitous messaging app WeChat in early 2017. The dealer then messaged him not only the drug dose required, but also a video showing another customer raping a woman after using the drugs he supplied to render her unconscious. The court report stated that the rapist filmed his crimes to share with the dealer in exchange for discounts on his next purchase, and that the vendor had reportedly sold incapacitating agents to nearly 100 people online while posing as a biotechnology company.

None of the guitar teacher’s first six victims reported the incidents to police or their parents, either because they were ashamed to talk about it or because they could not contact him after he blocked them online. But in May, he switched his weapon of choice to a cheaper drug from the same dealer and overdosed his victim, a 17-year-old high school student. When she remained unconscious well into the afternoon, the rapist dropped her off at the front door of her parents’ home. When her parents found her still unconscious, they called an ambulance to take her to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed abnormal drug intoxication. They then reported the case to public security, which launched an investigation.

The court report quoted public prosecutor Xu Liuqin saying that schools lack education and guidance on preventing and reporting sexual abuse, leaving minors more exposed to danger, especially from online predators.

Although public attention to sexual abuse and harassment is growing across the country, there is still significant denial of the issue in some quarters. In October, for example, state media outlet China Daily outraged readers when it published a commentary claiming that because of cultural traditions, sexual harassment was less prevalent in China than in the West. The piece was later deleted. According to statistics from the Supreme People’s Court, China’s courts saw more than 60,000 rape cases from 2013 to 2015.

The case is not the first in which domestic media have been gripped by drug-facilitated sexual assault involving illicit online sales. In August, a man was arrested in central China’s Hubei province after he bought drugs online and then sedated and raped his wife’s former colleague. Public prosecutor Xu said that her office has urged public security and other law enforcement departments — including the country’s food and drug administration — to reinforce supervision of online drug sales and break the supply chain behind such crimes.

The court’s report made no mention of whether it was investigating the drug seller’s other clients, including those who documented their crimes on video.

Editor: Qian Jinghua.

(Header image: The Image Bank/VCG)