SINGAPORE — For five years, a technician grossly exploited the trust of his young nephew who called him “father” to carry out a heinous campaign of sexual abuse, a court heard on Monday (7 September).
The culprit, emboldened by the victim’s naivete and lack of reaction, escalated in the gravity of his crimes over the years – from fondling the boy to making him perform oral sex and culminating in the perpetrator sodomising the victim.
These offences only came to light after the victim was caught recording an upskirt video in school in 2018 when he was 14 and referred to his school counsellor. He broke down during a counselling session and recounted his ordeal, which began when he was in kindergarten and just five years old.
The victim later told a government psychiatrist that he felt anger towards his uncle. But he also felt guilt towards the latter’s son (the victim’s cousin), whom he lived with, for the distress caused by the reporting of the abuse.
At the High Court on Monday, the culprit, now 54, was handed a total jail term of 22 years.
He pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual assault of a minor involving oral sex and one count of attempted sexual assault of a minor involving sodomy.
Two other charges of aggravated sexual assault involving oral sex and sodomy, along with five counts of aggravated outrage of modesty, were considered in sentencing as part of his plea bargain.
In sentencing the man, Justice Valerie Thean noted, among other things, the extreme youth of the victim; the severe abuse of trust involved; the exploitation of naivete; the escalating degree of exploitation in the culprit’s conduct over time; and that he had chosen to plead guilty early.
She agreed with the prosecution’s call for a jail term of at least 22 years. “This case strikes at the moral fabric of society,” said Deputy Public Prosecutors Wong Kok Weng, Gregory Gan and Michelle Lu in their sentencing submissions.
“The sentence imposed on the accused must send out a strong message that society will not tolerate such wanton abuse of a young and vulnerable child, and that any offender who perpetrates such abuse will be met with the strongest disapprobation from the courts,” they added.
Abuse started with molestation
The culprit cannot be named to protect the victim’s identity. He married the victim’s maternal aunt in 2006, after which he lived at the flat belonging to the victim’s maternal grandmother. A year after he got married, he had a son.
The victim lived with his maternal grandmother as his parents divorced around the time that he was born. The victim’s maternal uncle also lived in the flat.
The victim would address the perpetrator as “Baba”, a way of addressing a father in Malay. He treated the culprit like a father.
The abuse started in 2010. On the first occasion, the victim and the perpetrator were alone in the kitchen when the latter touched the victim’s buttocks over his shorts.
“The victim did not know the wrongfulness of the accused’s actions and laughed as he thought the accused was being playful. Since then, the accused would touch the victim’s buttocks frequently when they were alone, and he would also touch the victim’s buttocks and penis from outside his shorts,” said the prosecutors.
Culprit rubbed himself on victim
Sometime between 2011 and 2012, when the victim was about six to eight and in Primary 1 or 2, the culprit progressed to rubbing his penis against the victim’s buttocks frequently.
When the victim lay on the bed in the master bedroom and played with his tablet, the perpetrator would lie down beside him and rub his penis against the victim. Sometimes, the culprit would also twist the victim’s nipples while doing so.
“The accused also told the victim that his sperm was ‘jelly’. During that period, the victim still did not know the wrongfulness of the accused’s actions and did not tell anyone about it,” said the prosecutors.
Culprit sodomised victim
Sometime between 2013 and 2014, when they were alone in the master bedroom, the culprit closed the room door and asked the victim, who was then about 8 to 10 and in Primary 3 or 4, to follow him into the attached toilet.
The perpetrator pulled his pants down, sat on the toilet bowl and instructed the victim to squat in front of him and fellate him. Afterwards, the culprit sodomised the victim.
The culprit repeated the crime on another occasion around the same period. After instructing the victim to fellate him, he told the victim to stand up and face the wall of the toilet, and then bend down before trying to sodomise him.
But the victim felt pain and the perpetrator stopped his actions after a few seconds. He helped the victim to wear his shorts back and told him to leave the toilet.
Victim had post-traumatic stress
The victim only realised the that the culprit’s actions towards him were wrong after attending sex education classes in 2018, when he was about 12 to 13 and in Secondary 1.
After the victim broke down in front of his school counsellor in 2018, the school management called the police.
A government psychiatrist found that the victim felt distressed when he was made to describe the details of the sexual abuse that he endured during investigations. He also had some post-traumatic stress symptoms which has since improved.
The culprit’s 22-year jail term was backdated to the date of his remand on 21 August 2018.
The punishment for sexual penetration of a person below 14 is a jail term of between eight and 20 years, along with at least 12 strokes of the cane. Only male offenders below 50 can be caned.
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