SINGAPORE — In incidents dating back over a decade, a man sexually abused three sisters who were enrolled at a children’s enrichment centre in Bedok that was operated by his wife.
The three girls were between six and 10 years old when the 64-year-old man assaulted them in separate incidents after each had attended sessions at the playhouse. The victims are now aged 23, 20 and 18.
On Tuesday (3 March), the diagnosed paedophile was sentenced to two years and two months’ jail. He will serve an additional eight weeks’ jail in lieu of four strokes of the cane. The man, who cannot be named to protect the victims’ identities, is ineligible for caning as he is over the age of 50.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of molest and one count of committing an indecent act with a minor, with two counts of a similar nature taken into consideration for sentencing.
Families of offender, victims were on good terms
The man’s 59-year-old wife ran a playhouse that conducted enrichment programmes for children with learning disabilities, although it took all students regardless of learning ability.
He assisted in the playhouse’s operations by conducting some activities and ferrying the students around in his van. He stayed on the second level of the playhouse.
Between 2003 and 2004, the girls’ mother noticed that her middle daughter had learning difficulties and enrolled her at the playhouse. The man’s wife was the mother’s family friend.
The mother later enrolled her two other daughters at the playhouse. The victims’ family were on friendly terms with the man’s family and could access his second-floor home.
Between 2007 and 2008, the youngest girl, then between six and seven years old, was attending a playhouse class when she needed to use the toilet. The man then brought her to a toilet on the second floor and committed a sexual act on her.
Sometime between 2006 and 2008, the man brought the middle daughter to a quiet area near the playhouse’s office and placed her hand inside his pants and on his genitals. This took place after the girl attended a playhouse class.
The offence against the eldest girl occurred between 2004 and 2006. This time, the man brought the eldest girl to his residence after a class and molested her there.
The offences only came to light in 2017 when a tuition teacher for two of the sisters noticed that the middle sister looked troubled. The girl then revealed that she had been molested by the man. This led to the younger sister also sharing her experience.
On 5 May 2017, the youngest sister lodged a police report and the eldest followed suit later on.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Marshall Lim sought 26 months’ jail for the man, as well as an additional 10 weeks’ jail in lieu of caning. He said the man had easy access to the victims who were also vulnerable, given their age at the time.
He also cited the man’s previous conviction in 1999 for molesting a seven-year-old girl he had been giving tuition to.
The man’s lawyer, Leonard Terence Cheng argued for not more 24 months’ jail and eight weeks jail in lieu of four strokes of the cane. He told the court that his client had a psychiatric disorder that had previously not been diagnosed.
“(He) sought previous medical attention in 2001 but the doctor didn’t follow up with him,” said Cheng. The lawyer added that his client had attended 12 psychotherapy sessions over the past six months.
For committing a sexual act with a child, the man could be jailed up to five years, fined up to $10,000, or both. For molesting a child under the age of 14, he could have been jailed up to five years, fined, caned, or received a combination of the punishments.
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