Businessman guilty in nude photo shoot case
A rich businessman who took more than 60,000 photos of male models, some in compromising poses, has been convicted of indecent assault and criminal intimidation.
The District Court slammed Jerome Lau Ting-sing yesterday as morally despicable in luring the victims so he could take nude photos and molest them. He was likely to face jail because of the serious nature of the case, deputy district judge Ernest Lin Kam-hung said.
Lau, 62, was convicted of one count of indecently assaulting male model A, and two counts of criminally intimidating A and male model D between 2003 and 2008. Another charge of indecent assault, on male actor B, was dismissed.
The court heard earlier that Lau told the models he owned a fashion brand. He enticed them to have their photos taken in G-strings and touched their genitals during the sessions. He later threatened some that he would publicise their pictures.
Lin said Lau obviously took advantage of his financial status and his so-called connections - that he claimed could get the victims more modelling jobs - to 'prey on the gullible. This is not only illegal but also morally despicable', the judge said. He said the nature of the case was almost like blackmail.
In mitigation, lawyer David Boyton asked for a community service order instead of jail as his client had a clean record and the case had been delayed. Police arrested Lau twice in three years, in 2008 and last year.
Lin noted that A, B and D risked their reputations to testify in court despite their identities being protected by gag orders. The judge said he assessed the testimonies on their merits. He said A was honest, although he had forgotten some details. He said any right-minded person would regard Lau's assault on A as indecent since it was done without A's consent. The victim had earlier said Lau touched his private parts at least twice during the photo session.
Lin said D's attempt to distance himself from Lau after the photography indicated he was displeased by the experience, although Lau merely pulled his underwear down but did not touch him. The judge, in acquitting Lau of molesting B, said B had not told the court the whole truth. B could not explain why he was smiling, posing seductively and pornographically, and massaging Lau's feet while nude, the judge said.
Co-accused Lo Yan-kit, 27, former member of boy band 4anda, was earlier convicted of one count of criminal intimidation. Lo had pleaded guilty to helping Lau threaten D, as Lau was angry that D had not contacted him as promised after the photo session. Lo had told police that he dared not disobey Lau because Lau possessed his photos.
Yesterday, Lin slammed Lo's behaviour as inexcusable and despicable. In mitigation, lawyer John Wright asked the judge to consider Lo's young age and his guilty plea. He also submitted a letter from Lo's father asking for mercy.
The sentencing of Lau is adjourned to June 12, pending a psychologist's report. Lo's sentencing will fall on June 21, pending community service and probationary reports. Lau was remanded in custody while Lo was granted bail.