SINGAPORE — A woman whose daughter was allegedly molested by her nanny’s husband told the court on Wednesday (18 November) that the girl had been touched by the man “many times” before.
The 47-year-old woman also testified that when she asked her daughter, then five years old, why she had not revealed the incidents to her, the girl replied, “Uncle say cannot tell Mama.” The girl was also worried that her mother would scold her, as she felt that the incident was her fault.
The “Uncle”, Tan Wee Tim, 69, is claiming trial to one charge of molesting the girl, who was under the care of his wife – referred to in court as Ah Kuan – during the incident on 12 April 2019.
The girl’s mother, who works in the finance sector, was the fourth witness to testify, and took the stand a day after her husband to recount how she had probed her daughter into revealing the alleged incidents.
The girl and her family members cannot be named to protect the victim’s identity.
Took Tan to be grandfather figure: Mother
Before engaging the nanny’s services in September 2018, the mother told the court that she had a chat with her to find out more about her family background. She then learned that Ah Kuan had a husband who was retired, as well as a daughter.
Asked by the prosecution what the purpose of these questions to Ah Kuan was, the mother said that she preferred for her nannies to have daughters over sons, adding that she did not want for her daughter to be taken advantage of.
She then asked about Tan’s age and whether he was working, in order to ascertain if he would be home when her daughter was around.
Asked why she wanted to know Tan was home, the woman replied, “I feel safer in that sense... I didn’t want to take that chance, as long as gender is male, then it could of course be of concern.”
After she learnt that Tan was retired, the woman thought that he could be a “grandfather figure”.
The DPP then asked why the woman engaged Ah Kuan’s services despite initially having concerns about having men in the flat.
The woman replied that she was “ quite desperate at that point” as she had not managed to find childcare and had not wanted to change her daughter’s school due to being unable to find a nanny.
Shock revelation after much probing by mother
After engaging Ah Kuan’s services, the mother would often be the one picking her daughter up from the Jurong West flat in the evening. While her daughter would often say goodbye and hug Ah Kuan, she had to be prompted by her mother to say goodbye to Tan, as she appeared reserved around him.
On the evening of 12 April last year, the woman called Ah Kuan to tell her she was running late in picking up the girl, but learnt that Ah Kuan had already left for Malaysia, as was her usual practice on Friday nights.
“So my first question was automatically, ‘Then how about (my daughter)?’ She said no need to worry, (my daughter) was at home with her husband,” the woman said.
It was only after bringing her daughter home, did the mother learn what had allegedly happened.
During a casual chat asking her daughter what she had done with Tan before she had reached, her daughter remained silent.
“I repeated my question a few times, I repeated the same question a few times and she remained silent so I actually asked questions... ‘Were you sitting on the sofa, or was Uncle reading the newspaper?’ ” the woman said.
“She did not answer me, so I had to probe many times. And then she told me, ‘Uncle touched my private part.
“I felt very angry, I felt heart pain,” the woman said, her voice shaking. “I didn’t want to scare her but I needed to find out more, so I had to ask further to get more information.
“I asked her, where was she when Uncle touched her, she told me she was on sofa reading a book, I asked her where was Auntie, she said Auntie is in kitchen cooking, I told her, ‘if Uncle touched you why didn’t you move away?’ She say she did.
“She had walked around house in the living room, Uncle just kept following her, I asked her if this was the first time Uncle touched her, she say ‘no, many times’,” recounted the woman, who broke into tears.
At the woman’s behest, the girl showed her how Tan had allegedly touched her with a teddy bear dressed in panties. The girl said that Tan would pull down her panty and place his hand on her private part.
“I asked her ‘why didn’t you tell me’, she said, ‘Uncle say cannot tell Mama’ and she also worried that I would think she felt it was her fault, she was worried that I would scold her,” the woman said.
After the exchange, the mother assured her daughter it was not her fault. “I thanked her for telling me so that I can protect her,” said the woman.
Denial from babysitter
The next day, she asked her daughter to do the same demonstration for her husband and the two lodged a police report on 14 April last year.
After the couple lodged a police report, Ah Kuan allegedly claimed during a call with the mother that her daughter had always touched Tan.
However the woman said in court that her daughter was usually reserved and would not be so friendly towards him.
During cross examination, Tan’s lawyer, Lee Wei Fan, said that he was instructed by his client that Tan and Ah Kuan had seen the girl hugging Tan before, to which the mother said, “No never”.
When Lee argued that the mother was trying to distance her daughter’s relationship with Tan, the mother disagreed.
She also disagreed when Lee suggested that Tan was close to the girl and taught her how to read.
If convicted of molesting a person under 14, Tan faces a jail term up to five years, or fined, or caned, or with any combination of the penalties.
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