SINGAPORE — A 45-year-old man accused of sexually abusing his young daughter over a period of nearly five years claimed trial on Tuesday (17 November).
The man’s alleged offences began when the victim was aged 10 and escalated in severity over the years. He only ceased his actions after his daughter moved in with her mother, from whom the man was divorced by that point.
At the High Court, the man claimed trial to all 15 charges of sexual assault. His alleged offences date from 2010 to end-2014 and include him digitally penetrating the now 20-year-old victim, sodomising her and making her perform oral sex on him.
Both man and victim cannot be named due to a court gag order to protect the victim’s identity.
Abuse began in 2010
At the time when the offences began, the victim lived with her family in her uncle’s home. She shared a room with her father, mother, elder brother, younger sister and domestic helper.
The abuse occurred while the other family members were asleep in the room. The man first fondled his daughter in 2010, telling her that he would teach her more about sex and forbidding her from telling anyone else about the incident.
“As a young and impressionable girl, the victim trusted her father and allowed him to continue the sexual acts against her,” said the prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutors Goh Yi Ling, Colin Ng and Eugene Lee, in court documents.
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.
After the girl 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 all right for them to continue, as long as nobody knew about it.
He told her that she would lose a father if anyone learnt of their activities.
“Despite the victim’s discomfort and initial resistance, she ultimately grew accustomed to the sexual assaults by virtue of their sheer frequency,” said the prosecution.
The girl’s parents divorced sometime between 2012 and 2013, 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.
The man did not keep to his promise and after several months of repeated abuse, the victim again 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.
The girl complied and kept her silence.
According to the prosecution, the victim is due to testify that she did not disclose the incidents as her father constantly reminded her to kept quiet. She also feared the consequences to her family.
She only confided in her stepfather about the abuse in November 2017 and eventually told her mother at his behest. She lodged a police report on 19 November 2017.
A close friend of the girl is expected to testify about how the girl had confided in her about the abuse sometime in 2016. The girl’s elder brother will also testify that his father had confessed about digitally penetrating the girl. He will recall that he woke up one night in 2013 when he heard his sister telling the man to stop as she was in pain.
However, he did not suspect that the nature of their interaction was abusive at that point.
Investigating officer takes the stand
On Tuesday, the man challenged the validity of four statements he made to the police during investigations.
Investigating officer Jereld Xu took the stand as the first witness to give evidence about his interactions with the man while escorting him to a scene visit and taking his statements. Xu had been assigned to the case on 19 November.
The Deputy Superintendent (DSP) of the Singapore Police Force recalled that when he recorded a statement from the man on 23 November 2017, the man broke down in tears and remained emotional throughout the exchange.
After DSP Xu gave the man time to compose himself, the man said that it was “painful” for him to speak of the incident and that he had “wronged” his family. The man also said that he was sorry for what he did to his daughter.
DSP Xu recorded his words as a note within the statement before the statement recording resumed a while later.
After that first breakdown, the man “continued to express similar kind of remorse throughout” the session, which lasted little more than two hours.
The next day, the DSP and his colleagues brought the man back to the flat for a scene visit, and the man requested that the children in the flat to be “out of sight” so that they would not see him in restraints. DSP Xu then went ahead to inform the family of the request so that the children were kept in a bedroom during the duration of the scene visit, which lasted just under half an hour.
The DSP testified that throughout his interactions with the accused, he did not observe anything out of the ordinary, and that the man did not express any complaints, save for several requests to speak to his family members and girlfriend by phone.
These requests were granted with the condition that the man did not discuss details relating to the investigation.
DSP Xu will take the stand again on Wednesday when the trial resumes, with the man’s lawyer Mohammad Shafiq Haja Maideen, expected to cross-examine him.
If convicted of molesting a person under the age 14, the accused faces a jail term of up to five years, along with a fine or caning. If convicted of 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 face a jail term of up to 20 years, and may also be fined or caned.
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