She saw the 30-year-old Malaysian man, who is married to her mother, as her biological father. In turn, he bought her toys and played with her.
But when she was nine, the stepfather betrayed her trust by touching her inappropriately twice in a matter of minutes. The offence only came to light when a school councillor learned about the matter.
The stepfather was on Monday (17 July) sentenced to 15 months’ jail and three strokes of the cane for two counts of using criminal force to touch the private parts of the stepdaughter on two occasions in May 2016.
Both the stepfather, 30, and the stepdaughter, now 10, cannot be named to protect the girl’s identity. He has two other children with the girl’s mother.
The court heard that the stepdaughter had been living with her godmother since she was a baby. She would stay with her mother and stepfather on Thursdays when her mother fetched her from the student care centre. The stepdaughter would usually stay overnight and return to her godmother’s residence the next day.
According to Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ng Yiwen, the stepdaughter shared a “close relationship” with her stepfather, whom she regarded as her real father. The stepfather supported her financially and also acted as a disciplinarian, scolding her if she misbehaved.
On the day of the incident, the stepdaughter’s mother had brought her to her flat in Toa Payoh as she was not working. After preparing dinner for the family, the mother took a shower.
The stepdaughter was drying her hair in a room when the stepfather approached her and asked if he could dry her hair for her. She agreed. It was then that he molested her, telling the girl not to tell her mother about it.
While her mother was walking her to her godmother’s home on the night of the incident, the stepdaughter told her what had happened. The mother later confronted her husband, who did not deny the allegations. He told the mother that he was very sorry for what he had done.
The girl later told her godmother about the incident as well. The godmother then spoke to the victim’s mother, who said she would handle the matter.
However, the matter only surfaced when the stepdaughter told her classmate about the incident. The classmate informed her father, who in turn told a school councillor about it. The school councillor lodged a police report on 28 May, 2016.
DPP Ng sought a jail sentence of at least 24 months and three strokes of the cane, citing the close relationship between victim and accused as one of the aggravating factors.
“[The stepfather] had no qualms in satisfying his sexual desire by preying on her… he made use of her naivety and innocence and made her believe he was going to dry her hair for her ,” said DPP Ng.
The stepfather, who was unrepresented in court, said he was “sorry to everyone”.
For using criminal force with the intent to outrage the modesty of someone under 14, the stepfather could have been jailed up to five years, and/or fined, and/or caned.