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Howard Shaw Pleads Guilty in Singapore Underage Prostitute Case

Howard Shaw
Howard Shaw, left, leaves a courthouse where he was formally charged with having paid sex with a prostitute under 18 years old. Source: AFP/Getty Images

Howard Shaw, a member of the family that built an Asian movie production and real estate empire, pleaded guilty today in Singapore to having paid sex with an underage prostitute.

Shaw, 41, was among 48 charged involving a minor selling sex to men in Singapore in a scandal that has expanded to include a former bank executive and a school principal. Shaw was the executive director of the Singapore Environment Council, a non-profit organization.

“Mr. Shaw is not asking for any special treatment” given his family background, said his lawyer Harpreet Singh, who asked the judge to impose a fine instead of a prison term as he had made a “honest and reasonable mistake” in believing the girl was at least 18 at the time of the offence.

The incident happened on October 2010, when Shaw paid S$500 ($391) at a budget hotel at the edge of the city’s downtown. The offence for paid sex with someone under 18 carries a maximum seven-year jail term as well as a fine. While prostitution is legal in Singapore, soliciting for customers isn’t and offenders may be fined as much as S$2,000 or jailed for as long as six months, according to the city-state’s statutes.

Shaw, who’s out on bail, declined to speak with reporters after the hearing. The next hearing is scheduled on July 30.

The plea came after two of the city’s top civil servants were charged this month with corruption for obtaining sexual favors.

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