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Singapore

Father jailed for sexually abusing daughter for 13 years

Father jailed for sexually abusing daughter for 13 years

File photo of the Supreme Court in Singapore. (Photo: AFP)

SINGAPORE: For about 13 years, a man sexually abused his daughter in the family home when her mother was not around.

The abuse started in 2007 when the victim was eight. It continued for years until his offences came to light in 2020.

The 63-year-old offender was jailed for 26-and-a-half years on Monday (Jun 27) after pleading guilty to four charges of rape and sexual assault. Another 22 charges for similar offences were considered for sentencing.

The man cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the victim. 

The court heard that the victim lived in a three-room flat with her parents. 

From a young age, the victim occasionally slept in her parents' master bedroom as there was no air-conditioning in her bedroom.

The victim's mother was often out at work during the day. As her father had more flexible work hours, he was often alone with her in the flat.

The abuse started in December 2007. The victim was sleeping in the master bedroom at the time when her father woke her up and sexually assaulted her for 15 minutes.

He then told her not to tell anyone what had happened and left for work. She listened to him as she feared his temper.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Sheldon Lim and Ng Yiwen said this was the first instance of what would become years of prolonged abuse.

In January 2008, the man escalated to raping his daughter for the first time when her mother was out working.

He continued to sexually abuse her from 2008 until August 2020, when she was 21 years old. The man also showed her pornography.

The victim did not consent to any of the acts. While she wanted her father to stop the abuse, she did not know how to, said the prosecutors.

"She felt confused, lost and helpless because on the one hand she was afraid of the accused because of his temper and did not want her parents to divorce, but on the other, he was sexually exploiting her, and she felt shame and anger," they said.

DISCOVERY OF OFFENCES

On the morning of Aug 2, 2020, the victim's father sexually assaulted her while her mother was in the shower.

Early the next morning, the victim was sleeping in the master bedroom when she woke up to her father touching her chest. Her mother was also in the room at the time.

"This was the final straw that broke the camel's back," said the prosecutors. Later that morning, when the victim left the flat, she broke down as she could no longer take the abuse.

She was also overwhelmed with guilt at the thought that she was "betraying" her mother, said the prosecutors.

The victim told her boyfriend that she had been sexually abused since she was a child. At her boyfriend's encouragement, the victim also told her mother about the offences and made a police report.

Her mother had not been aware of the sexual abuse and was overwhelmed when she learnt of the allegations.

The man was arrested on Aug 3, 2020. During his initial police interview, he lied that he only had consensual sex with his daughter after she turned 18.

He subsequently admitted to the offences.

IMPACT ON VICTIM

The victim was assessed at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

She reported feeling helpless and harming herself as she was unable to cope with her internal distress. She also had brief thoughts of death and ending her life.

The IMH psychiatrist found that the victim was abused from a very young age and would have found it difficult to understand what was happening.

The offender was also seen at IMH, where he was found not to have any mental disorder and not to be of unsound mind at the time.

PROSECUTION AND DEFENCE ARGUMENTS

Prosecutors asked for at least 28 years' jail for the man, arguing that he had abused his position and violated the trust placed in him by the victim, society and the victim's mother.

"No mother leaving for work in the morning would dream that in her absence, her husband would rape their daughter in their marital flat in the afternoon," said Mr Lim.

They also highlighted his forcible rape of a young and vulnerable victim, and the fact that his actions exposed her to the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The man cannot be caned as he is above 50, and the prosecution did not ask for a jail sentence in lieu.

Defence counsel Ramesh Tiwary asked the court to give consideration to his client's guilty plea and his cooperation with authorities.

He argued that his client had admitted to all the charges at an early stage, when allegations had only been made by the victim and there was no other evidence.

Mr Tiwary also said that his client wished to have time to spend the last few years of his life with his family to earn their forgiveness.

In sentencing, Justice Ang Cheng Hock said that the offender had a moral obligation to care for his daughter.

His sexual exploitation of her was therefore a "highly egregious" breach of his role as a father.

The judge said that the sentence had to be harsh enough to deter potential offenders, punish the man and take him out of public circulation for the appropriate amount of time.

Justice Ang also placed some mitigatory weight on the offender's plea of guilty and cooperation with authorities, but said that his advanced age did not warrant a shorter sentence.

Source: CNA/dv(gs)

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