SINGAPORE — A father accused of sexually abusing his daughter for more than four years was found guilty of all 15 charges involving sexual assault on Tuesday (1 June).
The 45-year-old man had taken advantage of his then 10-year-old daughter's trust in him and her ignorance in sexual matters, the prosecution said. He made her believe that the sexual acts were normal, it added, while arguing for the man to be convicted after his trial.
The acts only stopped after the girl ran away from him in 2014 to stay with her mother, who had divorced her father two years earlier. All parties in the case cannot be named due to a gag order on the victim's identity.
In convicting the man, Justice Audrey Lim stated that the man had admitted in his statements during investigations to sexually abusing the victim, who is now 21.
At an ancillary hearing, the man had claimed that all four of his statements were prepared in advance, but his position kept shifting during trial, casting doubts on his veracity, Justice Lim said.
In 2010, when the offences began, the victim was living with her family in her uncle’s home. She shared a room with her father, mother, elder brother, younger sister and a domestic helper. Her parents were estranged due to frequent arguments and were less sexually intimate at this point.
The sexual abuse would occur while other family members were asleep. During the first molest incident, the father told his daughter that he would teach her more about sex and forbade her from telling anyone else about the incident.
The man continued to molest his daughter and also made her perform sexual acts on him. Due to her young age, the victim was unaware that any of these acts were wrong.
About a year later, the family moved into a four-room flat. The man’s relationship with his wife deteriorated and he ended up sharing a bed with his daughter while his wife slept in a different room. This presented the man with more opportunities to abuse his daughter.
The girl later learnt that it was not normal for her to be physically intimate with her father. She told her father to stop his ways, but he assured her that it was fine for them to continue, as long as nobody knew about it. He told her that she would lose a father if anyone were to learn of their activities.
The girl’s parents divorced in 2012, and the girl returned with her father and elder brother to live at her uncle’s flat. As her father continued to exploit her, the girl fled to her mother’s flat in December 2013. However, she returned to her father after he vowed to stop his advances.
He did not keep to his promise. After several more months of abuse, the victim fled to her mother at the end of 2014. The man agreed to let her stay there provided that she did not reveal the abuse to anyone and she complied.
She eventually confided in her stepfather about the abuse in 2017. A police report was lodged on 19 November 2017.
Commenting on the victim's inaction and her decision to continue living and sharing a bed with her abuser, the judge said that this was not unusual due to her young age. She noted that the victim had shared a close relationship with her father and accepted that the girl was shocked and confused but had continued to obey her father.
Noting that the girl had returned to her father even after running away, Justice Lim said, "I did not find her conduct unusual given their relationship. In any event, when the accused went back on his word and continued with (the) sexual abuses, the victim ran away with a second time and stayed with (her) mother for good.
"In fact, the victim ceased contact with the accused completely sometime in 2015. Even if she was unhappy with him for not providing enough financial support and making her do chores, it was inconceivable she would stop communicating with him for these reasons."
The man will return to court on 21 July to be sentenced.
For molesting a person under the age 14, he faces a jail term of up to five years, along with a fine or caning. For sexually penetrating a person under the age of 14, he faces a jail term of between eight and 20 years and at least 12 strokes of the cane.
For the same offence against the girl after she turned 14, he may be jailed up to 20 years, and fined or caned.
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