Caught in the Act: Breaking Down Kiefer Ravena’s Case Vs. An Alleged Extortionist

Article and Photo by Mickey Ingles

All the Interwebs is abuzz with the recent brouhaha over Kiefer Ravena. Pictures of the former Ateneo King Eagle’s inside stuff spread online last week. According to news reports, the basketball standout said that a certain fan added him on Viber and started “sexting” with him. The fan, Ravena claims, threatened to upload their Viber exchanges on social media if the basketball star didn’t send some dilhoutte pics… so, he did.

Ravena asked the police for help, and Philippine’s finest gave him a nifty dish that John Stockton would’ve been proud of. An entrapment operation was set last Wednesday, March 29, 2017; it resulted in the arrest of Kristoffer Monico Ng.

Ravena’s camp claims Ng asked to give him P50,000.00 in exchange for information of the person who spread the duck pucks.

Ng, incidentally, is an Ateneo alumnus like Ravena. Ng denies having anything to do with the scandal.

After the inquest last March 31, 2017, the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office found probable cause to indict Ng for two criminal offenses:

  • Article 294, Revised Penal Code (RPC) or Robbery with Violence Against or Intimidation Against Persons, as related to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012; and
  • The Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 (“Anti-Voyeurism Act”).

I’m sure a lot of Kiefer fans are wondering what the heck is going on and what’s next for their favorite basketball idol. While I can’t comment on what’ll happen to his relationship with a certain volleyball darling, I can do a bit of legalese-explaining. So, let’s get the ball rolling.

What’s entrapment? Is that even legal? 

Entrapment is the use of ways and means to trap or capture an alleged criminal.[1] It’s legal because the criminal intent or design to commit the crime originates in the mind of the accused; the police are just there to facilitate the capture of the criminal. The criminal would’ve done it anyway, with or without the participation of the cops.

entrapment.jpg
I really hope the police said, “the trap is set” before they began the operation.

Entrapment has to be distinguished from instigation. Instigation is illegal; it’s basically luring the accused into doing a crime that he had no intention to commit, were it not for the participation of the police. In other words, the criminal intent originated with the police, not the criminal. Since instigation is illegal, the accused is absolved of all alleged wrongdoing, and the cop is the one held liable under the law.

According to the news reports, it doesn’t seem Ng is questioning the entrapment operation. Whether his camp will raise this issue remains to be seen.

What’s an inquest? Is it like a quest or something?

 An inquest is an informal investigation by the public prosecutor in a criminal case involving accused who are lawfully arrested without a warrant for a crime that requires a preliminary investigation. The purpose of the inquest is to determine whether the accused should remain in custody or be released for further preliminary investigation. An inquest prosecutor may file a complaint or information after an inquest.[2]

In the March 31, 2017 inquest, both Ravena and Ng attended, presumably to give their sides of the story. The inquest prosecutor found probable cause to indict Ng, but stated that it will be up to the City Chief Prosecutor (his boss) to file the criminal cases against Ng.

Waitaminute, I thought you can’t get arrested without a warrant. Warrantless arrests? What are you talking about?

 Well, the general rule is that you can’t get arrested without a warrant. You’re right with that one. But there are exceptions. One of them is when in the presence of a peace officer (or a private person), the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense.[3] It’s more popularly known as the in flagrante delicto exception.

An entrapment operation is a prime example of a valid warrantless arrest, because the accused is committing a crime in the presence of a cop. This is what happened in this case.

What crimes  require preliminary investigations?

Preliminary investigations are required before the filing of a complaint or information for an offense where the penalty prescribed by law is at least 4 years, 2 months, and a day.[4]

The offenses involved in these cases have penalties over the threshold. For the robbery with intimidation charge (which is modified by the Cybercrime Prevention Act), the minimum penalty is 10 years, 1 day.[5] Violations of the Anti-Voyeurism Act are punished with a prison sentence from three to seven years.[6]

Since Ng was validly arrested without a warrant and the offense he allegedly committed required preliminary investigations, inquest proceedings necessarily followed.

What’s punished under the Anti-Voyeurism Act?

Relevant to the case is Section 4 (c), in relation to Section 4 (a), which prohibits the sale or distribution of photos or videos of the private parts of persons without the consent of the person involved and under circumstances in which the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

But Kiefer presumably took the photos himself, that’s consent, right?

 Even if Kiefer sent the photos of his johnson voluntarily, the law punishes the distribution of the photos separately.[7] So, if you send nudies to the dude you met on Tinder and he spreads it online without your consent, he can be liable under the Anti-Voyeurism Act.

What’s Robbery with Violence Against or Intimidation Against Persons?

Relevant to Kiefer’s case is Robbery with Intimidation Against Persons under Article 294, Revised Penal Code. The crime is committed when there is taking of property (or at least an attempt to do so) and intimidation is used to take the property. Intimidation is unlawful coercion or applying duress on the victim.

It will be interesting how the prosecution will prove this moving forward. I imagine the property in question here was the P50,000, and the intimidation is the extortion attempt.

 Will Kiefer win?

Well, it’s too early to tell. In basketball lingo, we haven’t even reached halfway past the first quarter yet. The next step is for the City Chief Prosecutor to determine whether he or she will file an information. An information is a formal accusation in writing charging a person with an offense, subscribed by the prosecutor and filed with court.[8] Ng can likewise file for a preliminary investigation and file for bail.

On Kiefer’s side, it’ll mean court appearances and more media scrutiny (and a fallout from  fans?). Whatever’s next, Kiefer will have an unwanted distraction on his side as he gears up for his Asean Basketball League debut with Alab Pilipinas.

We’re sure the media will be all up on this story. And we’ll be with you all every “legal” step of the way to explain to break down the legalese.

Mickey Ingles is the editor-in-chief of Batas Sportiva. He teaches Sports Law in the Ateneo Law School. You can follow him on twitter @MickeyInglesLaw.


 

[1] People v. Dansico, G.R. No. 178060, February 23, 2011

[2] Rules of Court, Rule 112, Section 6.

[3] Rules of Court, Rule 113, Section 5.

[4] Rules of Court, Rule 112, Section 1.

[5] RPC, Article 294.

[6] RA 9995, Section 5.

[7] Id.

[8] Rules of Court, Rule 110, Section 2.

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