SINGAPORE: A 20-year-old man was on Thursday (Oct 29) given at least a year's reformative training for repeatedly molesting and sexually abusing his younger cousin from when she was eight.
The man was 13 years old when he first preyed on his cousin, justifying to himself that she would not understand what was going on.
He escalated his actions from molest to sexual abuse over three years and was caught after the girl confided in her friends about pregnancy fears.
Reformative training is a harsher punishment than probation as it results in a criminal record and detains offenders in a structured environment.
All parties cannot be named due to gag orders protecting the identity of the victim, who is now 15.
The offender had pleaded guilty in August to one count of outraging his cousin's modesty and two counts of sexual penetration of a minor. Another 14 charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
The court heard that the victim regarded the accused as her older brother, playing together with him since they were young children.
The girl visited the accused's flat frequently as her aunt and grandmother would often take care of her, and also stayed for a time at the accused's flat due to her parents' housing situation.
The man began preying on her in 2014 after seeing her come out naked from a shower.
He molested the girl when the adults were out, initially feeling disgusted with himself but later justifying to himself that the consequences were "not as bad" as he thought she would not understand what was going on.
The girl was nine years old when she was first sodomised by her cousin in December 2014. He repeated the acts on multiple occasions over the next few years, despite the girl telling him that it hurt. The offender also taught her how to perform sexual acts.
The victim did not understand what was happening, covering her face and body with her blanket whenever he abused her.
In August 2017, the victim felt pain in her stomach. She was in Primary 6 at the time and was worried as she thought she could get pregnant from anal penetration.
She told her close friends about this fear and later revealed that her cousin had sexually abused her. Her teacher was alerted to it and took her to a police station.
The girl later said she felt "scared, uncomfortable and confused" during the sexual activities, but kept quiet as she did not want to break up the family.
She also felt "sad" at the thought of her cousin being punished, and worried about how her relatives would take the news.
The offender was found suitable for reformative training after the prosecution objected to the calling of a probation suitability report, saying that he had committed very serious sexual offences.
"The range of the offences speak to both the depravity and the scale of the sexual offences," said the prosecutor, adding that the offender faced 17 charges in all committed over three years.
The victim and her mother moved out of the accused's flat immediately after the offences were reported, and the accused apologised to the victim's mother and father.
The accused now interacts with the victim only by greetings at family gatherings and when there is close parental supervision.