THE already tarnished image of the Royal Hong Kong Police took another beating yesterday when a judge described its handling of a suspected rape case as 'disgraceful'. Mak Wai-kei, 17, was cleared of rape after the High Court heard that he had been beaten by two officers, forced to sign a bogus confession and was denied access to his parents for 18 hours. Mr Justice Ryan said medical evidence was consistent with the assault alleged by Mak. It was disgraceful, he said, that Mak's parents were denied access until after the police had obtained a confession. Senior Superintendent Eric Lockeyear, head of the police public relations branch, said an inquiry would be conducted into the affair. The news came in a week when 16 officers appeared in court on charges of illegal gambling, conspiracy to rob, theft and indecent assault. Meanwhile, another 60 police are under investigation for their part in a fake gigolo racket which came to light when 2,000 pictures of naked and semi-naked officers were found in a Happy Valley flat. At the same time, senior officers have admitted they are concerned by evidence of growing corruption within the force. The prosecution in yesterday's case decided not to proceed with the rape allegation after Judge Ryan ruled that Mak's confession could not be used in evidence. Mak instead pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of having unlawful sexual intercourse and was fined $5,000. Mak's arrest came after a St Valentine's Day night out which ended with him having sex with a girl who was three months short of her 16th birthday. Prosecutor Wesley Wong said Mak, the girl, and friends had been out drinking until the early hours of February 14. One of the men present suggested the girl stay at his home that night. She asked Mak to go with them because she had known him longer, the court heard. Mak and the girl slept together in a room at the friend's home. It was then that they had sex. It was Mak who reported the matter to the police, claiming he was being blackmailed over the affair by the girl's boyfriend. When police spoke to her she made a statement in which she alleged she had been raped by Mak who was arrested on March 25 this year. His barrister, John Hagon, claimed Mak was assaulted by two constables. After his arrest he was frog-marched, leaving him with bruises on his arms, the court heard. Mr Hagon said the youth was punched in the abdomen in a police car on his way to Sha Tin station and later struck on the neck. His mother and father were first told of his arrest at 2 am the following day. They were desperate to see their son but were denied access until 8 pm that evening. His parents were so concerned they sought the legal advice to help them get permission to see their son. When finally allowed to see his parents Mak complained to his father about his treatment. He was taken to hospital for a medical examination and was found to have suffered bruising. The officers, who denied assaulting him, could not explain how he came to have the injuries. Mr Hagon suggested the teenager had been made to write out a confession dictated to him by one of the constables. In mitigation on the lesser charge, Mr Hagon said it was an offence which unfortunately occurred quite frequently. In other countries, young people in situations like this usually escaped with a caution, he said. He lived with his family and worked in a cake shop in Sha Tin, Mr Hagon said. Mr Justice Ryan said he was sure Mak had learned a lesson from his experience.