SINGAPORE — A man who repeatedly molested his teenage daughter was jailed 16 months on Tuesday (21 May).
The 52-year-old Singaporean had touched the 14-year-old victim inappropriately on multiple occasions while they shared a bed.
The man admitted to one charge of molesting the victim in March 2018, while another charge involving the earlier incident was taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Both the man and his daughter cannot be named to protect the latter's identity.
Accused and victim slept in same bed
The court heard on Tuesday that both the father and daughter shared a queen-sized bed.
In March last year, the girl had been sleeping on the bed when she was awoken by her father leaving and returning to bed. The girl’s mother, a nurse, had been working the night shift at the time.
The accused had earlier placed his arms around the victim’s waist. He later felt the urge to molest her and touched her breasts as well as genitals while she was half-asleep.
After a while, he tried to reach into the victim’s undergarments. Feeling afraid and uncomfortable, the girl turned to her side with her back facing her father in the hopes that he would stop.
The man paused for a few minutes, before molesting the girl over her clothes. He then pulled down the girl's pants and his own shorts. He then rubbed himself on the victim.
After some time, the girl found herself unable to endure the sordid acts and sat up in bed, pretending to have just woken up. Her father also acted as if nothing had happened. Both then left the bed.
Victim left disturbed, embarrassed
The girl was afraid to tell her mother what happened for fear that would not be believed. She was also afraid of confronting her father over his actions.
However, her behaviour in school changed following the incident and she found herself being unable to concentrate during classes.
A teacher who observed a change in her mannerisms then spoke to her. She was later referred to a school counsellor and an officer from the Ministry of Social and Family Development later brought the victim to lodge a police report.
The girl reported being disturbed and embarrassed by the incident. She started associating other acts in the past, such as her father asking her to sit on his lap, with him having ulterior motives.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Seah Ee Wei sought a 14-month jail sentence for the man, arguing that the degree of sexual exploitation in the case was high.
Although there had been no skin-to-skin contact, the man had touched multiple private parts of the victim for an extended time, and persisted even when the victim turned away.
The victim, who was vulnerable due to her age and half-asleep state, had to take steps to avoid being molested further, said Seah.
“As the victim’s father, the (man) ought to have been a protective figure to the victim. The commission of the offences was a clear abuse of trust that the victim reposed in her father,” the DPP added.
“She trusted him so much that she slept on the same bed as him every night. She continued to do so even after he had molested her two months earlier... Yet he exploited this trust by seizing the opportunity to touch her private parts when he thought she was asleep.”
Accused had ‘pornographic addiction’: defence
In mitigation, the man's lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy said that even though the girl would have suffered from some degree of psychological harm, the prosecution had not submitted evidence that the harm was severe.
The defence also described the man's actions as “heinous” but added that their client was remorseful.
“Our client instructs that he had difficulties controlling his sexual urges due to his pornographic addiction,” he said.
“(He) was diagnosed with habit and impulse control disorder (excessive sex drive). Our client would view pornographic videos and material daily. This addiction plagued our client for almost 30 years.”
While there was no causal link between the offence and the man's disorder, his addiction may have had a part to play, said Ganapathy.
The man has since voluntarily admitted himself to the National Addiction Management Services to treat his disorder. He now cuts down porn consumption to every two to three days.
Ganapathy agreed with the prosecution on the sentence proposed.
Noting the severity of the offence, however, District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam imposed a longer sentence than both sides had asked for.
“Even your counsel states that you have committed a very heinous offence. The court has to impose a sentence to send a message to others and yourself,” said Ng, who noted that the accused had molested his daughter more than once.
For molest, the man could have been jailed up to two years as well as fined or caned.
More Singapore stories: