SINGAPORE — At the age of between eight and nine years old, she was targeted by an older cousin who made sexual advances on her, believing that she could not understand the gravity of his actions.
The sexual abuses began when the cousin was 13. They continued until the victim turned 12 years old, when she became worried that she might get pregnant.
The victim confided in her close friends who related the incident to their teacher. She later lodged a police report.
On Wednesday (12 August), a court called for a reformative training report for the accused, now 20, who is waiting to enlist into National Service. Facing 17 charges involving sexual offences, the man pleaded guilty to three which involved molesting and sexually penetrating the victim. The rest will be taken into consideration for his sentencing.
The man and the victim, now 15, cannot be named due to a gag order.
Accused regarded as elder brother
The two cousins were playmates from a young age. The man would help his younger cousin with her school work and she looked up to him as an elder brother. The victim was especially close to the man’s mother, who would fetch her to and from school. The aunt and her mother would also care for the girl after school.
The sexual abuse began in 2014 when the man saw his cousin come out of the shower naked. She was about eight to nine years old then. Although the man was not aroused, he had the desire to see her naked again.
Some months later, when his mother and grandmother were away from the flat, the man felt the urge to touch his cousin. He asked for her permission, knowing that she did not understand what he was asking for. The girl agreed and the man ran his hands over her body after removing her clothes.
After she dressed herself, the man asked if she was fine and she replied “yah”. Though the man felt disgusted at himself, he felt that the consequences of his wrongdoing were “not as bad”, as he believed the victim could not understand what had happened. He repeated the act several months later in 2014.
By the end of 2014, the man began to have thoughts about sodomising the girl. He did so on four occasions during the 2015 school holidays without using a condom. Each time, he would stop after the girl said she felt pain. He also molested her. The girl was nine to 10 years old then, while the man was between 14 and 15 years old.
In March 2016, the girl had her first menstruation but she still did not understand what the man was doing to her. The man had convinced her to engage in a sexual act with him, telling her it was a game. He continued to abuse her throughout 2016, grabbing her breasts and teaching her how to participate in more sexual acts.
The abuse lasted until the girl was 12 while the man was 17 then.
Worried about getting pregnant
The last occasion of abuse was on 25 August 2017, when the girl felt pain in her stomach. She was worried that pregnancy could occur from the sexual penetration, even though there was no vaginal penetration.
She confided her worries in two friends and eventually revealed that her cousin had sexually abused her. One of the friends told their teacher about the offences and the teacher brought the girl to a police station.
The victim revealed that although the man had not threatened her, he told her not to tell anybody about the acts. She had felt scared, uncomfortable and confused but did not understand the seriousness of the man’s actions.
She also kept mum about the incidents as she did not want her and the man’s families, who were close, to break up.
“She felt ‘sad’ at the thought of the (man) being punished and was worried about how her aunt and grandmother would take the news,” the prosecution told the court.
The man revealed that he did not have penile-vaginal sex with his cousin as he did not want her to get pregnant. He persisted for four years as the girl often said she was fine, even though he knew he was in the wrong.
The victim and her mother moved out of the flat immediately after the incidents were reported and the man apologised to the victim’s father a day later. He also later apologised to his aunt.
“The (man) and victim’s parents have indicated that the (man) and the victim only interact with one another by greeting each other at family gatherings and where there is close parental supervision. On the occasions the victim came to visit her aunt or grandmother she was to call in advance, and their parents would ensure there was parental presence,” added the prosecution.
Mitigating for the man, lawyer Choo Si Sen described his case as “sad”. He urged the court to call for a probation suitability report.
Probation is a community-based sentencing option that is usually given to offenders under the age of 21 and does not result in a criminal record. Reformative training is also a rehabilitative sentencing option given to those below 21 but results in a criminal record.
Choo said his client was going to pursue tertiary education and that the offences were committed when he was young.
District Judge Ronald Gwee rejected the calling of a probation report, describing the offences as serious and committed against a very young victim over a few years.
The judge adjourned the case to 19 August.
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