SINGAPORE: A man sexually assaulted his intellectually disabled daughter when she was between six and eight years old, and again when she was 17.
The crimes only came to light when a teacher at the victim's special education school noticed she was not her usual self and found out what happened.
The 52-year-old man, who cannot be named due to a gag order protecting the identity of the victim, was sentenced on Monday (Nov 23) to 20 years' jail.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual assault by penetration, including one aggravated charge, and a third charge of molestation was taken into consideration.
The offender was a dishwasher at the time of the offences, which first took place sometime between 2008 and 2009.
The girl shared a bedroom with her parents, but her mother was not around on the night her father sexually assaulted her for the first time.
She felt scared but did not tell anyone about what her father did as she was afraid her parents would scold her, the prosecution said. She also started harming herself with a ruler and stapler.
The offender targeted his daughter again when she was 17. His wife had moved out of the matrimonial home a few years earlier when he sexually assaulted the girl in October 2018.
At the time, the man shared a room with his daughter, sleeping on mattresses next to each other, in a home shared with other relatives.
At 12.30am on Oct 26, 2018, the man drank some alcohol before lying down on his mattress. He then moved next to his daughter and began sexually assaulting her. The girl covered her face with both hands and tried to push her father away.
Eventually he fell asleep beside her, and the teen cried silently in bed, said the prosecution.
Later that day, the victim went to a performing arts class, where the teacher noticed she looked disturbed and frustrated.
She took the victim out of the class to ask if she was alright, and the teen eventually told her that her father had touched her inappropriately. A school counsellor was notified and the police were alerted.
The victim was seen by a psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health and found to be in the extremely low range of intelligence. She was diagnosed with mild intellectual disability, and found to lack awareness of social norms and conventional consequences of behaviour.
This meant that she likely requires continued guidance and supervision to guard against undesirable influences or treatment, the court heard.
"A HIGHLY DISTURBING CASE"
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Ee Ling asked for at least 24 years' jail, calling this "a highly disturbing case".
She said the man was "emboldened by his child's naivety and silence over the years", and said the victim was especially vulnerable as she was both very young when the abuse started and intellectually disabled.
The offences disturbed the victim deeply, causing her to self-harm after the first offence and appearing frustrated and disturbed after the second.
"As the victim’s father, the accused was in a position of absolute authority and influence over her life. He was vested with the responsibility of taking care of the victim and protecting her, especially since her mother had left the household," said Ms Chee.
"The victim looked to the accused for fatherly love, affection and security. Instead of caring for and protecting her, the accused callously abused the victim to satiate his sexual desires."
The victim now lives at a shelter for teenage girls who are abused and is undergoing special education.
After the crimes were committed, the victim's father was assessed at IMH and found to have a cognitive functioning for perceptual reasoning within the extremely low to borderline range. However, his level of independent functioning in the community did not meet the criteria for intellectual disability.
He was also diagnosed with alcohol use disorder and was possibly intoxicated at the time of the 2018 offence. However, he was found to have enough clarity of mind to know what he was doing and that it was wrong.
The man said he knew he made a mistake and said he would not drink or smoke again. He also asked the court for a chance and said he would be a better husband and father after his release from prison.
For sexual assault by penetration of a minor, he could have been jailed between eight and 20 years and given at least 12 strokes of the cane. Of his 20-year jail term, a year is in lieu of caning as he is above 50 and cannot be caned.