For four years, a man slept on a mattress between two daughters of a close friend and was treated like a second father by the girls.
However, his friend was not aware then that the man had been sexually abusing the girls. The older girl was only nine years old when the offences began.
In the High Court on Thursday (10 January), the Singaporean man, now 58, who cannot be named to protect the identities of the two girls, pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated sexual assault by penetration of a minor under 14.
Two counts of a similar nature and five counts of aggravated outrage of modesty were taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Before moving in with the family, the man had lived in Malaysia and travelled frequently to Singapore to do odd jobs.
He was a good friend of the victims’ father, whom he had known for 20 years. The father often consulted the man for financial advice.
The man became close to the family while caring for the victims when their father was away in prison.
Some time in 2011, the man, then 51 years old, divorced his wife. He began staying overnight at the victims’ flat on weekends. With the permission of the girls’ father, he shared a room with the sisters, sleeping between them on a mattress.
During his stay with the family, the man often joked and hugged the girls. He showered them with gifts, including a mobile phone for the elder sister, and bought them meals. The family treated the man as part of their family.
The two girls called the man “bapak”, which meant father in Malay. The man would lend a listening ear to the elder girl and offer her advice, which made the girl think he treated her better than her parents.
On a night between January and November 2011, when the younger girl was asleep, the man asked the older girl to kiss his lips. The latter complied, thinking that it was a normal way of showing affection.
The man then asked the girl to perform sexual acts on him before molesting her. At the time, she was nine years old and did not understand the nature of the act.
On another occasion between January and May 2015, the man molested the same girl and again requested her to perform sexual acts on him. He warned the girl, who was 13 years old by then, not to tell anyone about the incident. The victim’s younger sister was asleep then.
During several outings with the family, he would arrange for one of the girls to follow him to park his car at a multi-storey carpark.
On one occasion between April and December 2013, the man asked the younger girl to accompany him. While she sat on the passenger seat beside him, the man leaned over, hugged and kissed her on the lips. The man then molested her and asked her to perform sexual acts on him.
The younger girl, then between nine and 10 years old, agreed to the man’s request not to tell anyone about the incident as she wanted the man to continue spending time with her family.
In 2015, the older girl, who was then in Secondary 2, attended a lesson where she learnt about sexual offences involving victims under 16 years old. She then realised what the man did to her was wrong.
She confided in her boyfriend who asked her to report the matter to the police. However, the girl did not do so as she was afraid of the consequences for the man.
Some time in 2017, the girl was placed in a welfare home as she was showing suicidal tendencies. She later revealed the sexual abuse to an officer. A police report was subsequently lodged.
The man will be sentenced at a later date pending his medical report.
For each count of sexual assault by penetration of a minor under 14, the man faces between eight and 20 years’ jail but will not face the minimum mandatory caning of 12 strokes as he is above 50.
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