Indonesian photographer arrested for allegedly raping two teen models, coercing them to pose as kidnapping victims

Photographer Putu Manuaba lured in his victims with the promise of a modeling career. Photo by Pixabay.

A middle-aged Balinese photographer has been arrested on Monday for allegedly raping two teen student models, whom he had pose as kidnapping victims.

Forty-three year old Putu Manuaba had initially approached his victims, identified as ‘Mawar’, 17, and ‘Melati’, 17, via social media, reported Jawa Pos late last night.

Luring them in on the promise of modelling careers, he met each of the girls—on different occasions—at the local beach of Umaanyar for their first photo shoot. From there, he convinced them to go to his studio, Manu Photo Work, in the village of Pengastulan, Seririt, to capture some themed portraits.

In incidents almost a month apart, Manuaba allegedly persuaded the girls to pose as kidnapping victims. “Once the eyes, mouth and hands were bound, Manu commited his depraved crime,” reported Tribun Bali. Despite their muffled screams, nobody came to the girls’ rescue as their assaulter had turned the studio music up high, reports said.

Prompted by their parents, both parties reported Manuaba to Buleleng Police on Monday, following the alleged rape of Melati on Dec. 3, though Mawar had been attacked three weeks earlier, on Sunday, Nov. 11. Police acted swiftly and Manuaba was arrested at his home on Monday, where forces seized a digital camera, two laptops, a cell phone, and the scarf believed to have been used to blindfold the victims, as detailed by Tribun Bali.

Commenting in a report by Jawa Pos, Buleleng Police Chief Supt. Suratno said on Wednesday, “This crime has been repeatedly committed. There are already two victims reporting to us, both with similar testimonies.”

But in a press conference after his arrest, Manuaba claimed that although he had photographed many women, he had only sexually assaulted two. “I only had relations with two. I gave the first one IDR100,000 (US$6.88).With the second, I just wanted to buy rice. She ran away. I wanted to guide them to become models. I worked with them in my studio, when the house was empty.”

Manuaba is suspected of having violated Article 81, paragraph 1 of Indonesia’s Law no. 35 of 2014, as well as Law no. 23 of 2002 Concerning Child Protection in conjunction with the Criminal Code. If convicted of these charges, he could get sentenced to a maximum of 15 years behind bars.

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