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The Straits Times
November 18, 2021
After returning home from her kindergarten graduation performance, a six-year-old girl rested on a bed next to the man she thought was her biological father.
The man, who was topless, made the girl perform an indecent act on him and molested her. The incident took place in 2009.
Over several years since then, the man sexually abused the young girl, who is his adopted daughter.
The offences came to light on Oct 2 last year after the girl spoke to her school's counsellor and principal, and a police report was made.
In court on Thursday (Nov 18), the man, now 65, was sentenced to 32 months' jail, with an additional 10 weeks in lieu of caning.
He pleaded guilty to one count of molesting a minor and another charge of molestation.
The man, who was working alongside his wife as a hawker before his remand, and his victim cannot be named due to a gag order.
Describing this as a sad case when delivering her sentencing verdict in court, District Judge Janet Wang noted that the "acts of depravity" had impacted the victim significantly and that there was abuse of trust and an "insidious element of sexual grooming".
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jingxi said in court documents that the victim had been adopted as an infant but she had been unaware of this even up till the day the police report was made.
While his wife played the role of disciplinarian, the offender adopted the "good cop" role, generally doting on the victim, even as he abused her.
The victim realised that the acts constituted sexual assault only in 2014, when she was in Primary 5 and received sex education lessons in school.
DPP Tay said: "It was then that the victim realised that the accused had been sexually assaulting her, and that what he had done in this respect was wrong.
"Despite this realisation, the victim did not disclose to anyone the accused's inappropriate actions towards her for fear that no one would believe her."
However, she started finding excuses to stay out late and avoid returning home.
In 2018, when she was 15, she got into a heated argument with her mother, who took her mobile phone and threw it on the ground in anger.
The phone broke and the next day, the offender approached his adopted daughter while she was in the kitchen getting a drink of water to hand her some money to repair the phone.
After taking the money, she turned around to continue drinking water. The offender suddenly hugged her from behind and placed his hands on her waist.
DPP Tay said: "The accused then whispered to the victim in Mandarin, 'Now that I have passed you money, I can touch you.' The victim said no."
Despite this, he molested her.
The victim immediately elbowed him, left the kitchen and returned to her room.
DPP Tay said the victim drank alcohol to suppress her negative feelings arising from the sexual assaults over the years.
On Oct 1 last year, her adopted mother found out that she had been drinking alcohol and chased her out of the flat.
Not having a place to sleep for the night, she called a friend, who advised her to speak to a trusted adult. The victim then called her school counsellor about the sexual assaults.
For molesting a minor under 14, the offender could have been jailed for up to five years, fined or both.
For the molestation offence, he could have been jailed for up to two years, fined or both.
Though the offences warrant caning, he cannot be caned as he is older than 50.