SINGAPORE — Lev Panfilov, a former actor and scriptwriter from comedy channel Wah!Banana, is currently standing trial in a Singapore court for charges of molestation, sexual assault, and rape involving a woman he met on the dating app Tinder.
27-year-old Panfilov, is a permanent resident who originated from St Petersburg, Russia. He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday (16 May) in the Singapore Supreme court to four charges of molestation, sexual assault and rape.
The alleged offenses took place on the night of 12 January 2021, at Panfilov’s shared three-bedroom condominium unit in River Valley, where he lived with two roommates.
Panfilov is being defended by Mr. Anil Balchandani and Mr. Ashwin Ganapathy, as he contests the charges in a High Court trial that has been scheduled to last for 12 days.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana stated that the victim, who was 30 years old at the time, had been using Tinder to expand her social circle and meet new people when she came across Panfilov.
The victim was writing a script, so she decided to match with Panfilov, hoping to seek advice from him regarding scriptwriting.
Subsequently, the two individuals continued their conversations on Tinder and WhatsApp, and they later arranged to meet on 12 January, at Wine Connection located in Robertson Quay.
During their dinner, the duo collaborated on the woman’s script. As the restaurant was closing at around 10pm, Panfilov extended an invitation to the victim to continue their work at his condominium unit.
Showed his true colours to victim
According to the prosecution’s case, the woman agreed and accompanied Panfilov to his unit. They watched YouTube videos featuring comedians, discussed comedic principles, and proceeded to work on the script in Panfilov’s bedroom.
“After some time had elapsed, however, the accused showed his true colours, and the facade of civility he had presented throughout the evening crumbled away, “said the prosecutor.
Allegedly, Panfilov forcibly kissed the victim, proceeded to molest her, sexually assault her, and rape her, despite her repeated pleas for him to stop and his awareness of her lack of consent.
After the assault, Panfilov reportedly allowed the woman to leave and arranged for a private hire vehicle to take her home.
The case revealed that the woman experienced pain in her lower abdominal region the day after and had to sought medical treatment.
Struggling with the decision of whether or not to file a police report, the victim ultimately did so after her mother discovered her crying in her room during the early hours of January 18, 2021.
The victim was subsequently taken to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, where the matter was reported to the police on the same day.
If convicted of rape, Panfilov can be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment, fined, or caned. The same penalties apply to sexual assault by penetration.
For molestation, which refers to non-consensual physical contact of a sexual nature, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for up to two years, a fine, caning, or any combination of these punishments.
27,700 followers on TikTok
Between May 2020 and May 2021, Panfilov was employed at Wah!Banana, and he actively creates content on various social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, where he has amassed a following of over 27,700 followers.
Before settling in Singapore in 2010, Panfilov had lived in Bahrain and Dubai with his family. He attended the German European School Singapore and Kent Ridge Secondary School, where he completed his O levels.
Following his graduation with a diploma in audio production from Lasalle College of the Arts, Panfilov served two years in the 1st Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.
In a Facebook post in 2019, Panfilov disclosed that he had completed his National Service (NS) obligations.
In January 2022, Panfilov told The Straits Times in an interview that he is “proud in a way that Singlish gives him an advantage over other Caucasians here and I become more approachable.”
“But having served NS is what makes me most proud, as I swore to protect Singapore with my life.”
He told the ST: “I have adapted to Singapore culture, but I miss Russia as it’s my home country and all my relatives are Russian.
“My personality is divided into three types – Russian, Singaporean and American/British (Anglo-Saxon). I am a citizen of the world, so home is wherever I live.”