SINGAPORE: A 54-year-old man was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years' jail on Monday (May 13) for sexually abusing his daughter over a span of almost four years from when she was eight.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his daughter, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault by penetration and one count of aggravated outrage of modesty, with another five similar charges taken into consideration.
The court heard that the man worked as a retail sales supervisor, with his wife working night shifts as a sales promoter. Their relationship was strained due to financial problems, and the man looked after their three children and was particularly close to the victim as she would ask him for help with homework.
In 2010, his daughter, who was in Primary 2, approached the man for help with Math homework.
They went to the man's bedroom, where he locked the door and asked her to put aside her homework, before asking her to perform a sex act on him.
She did so for a few minutes until her brother knocked on the bedroom door, court documents said. Her father pulled his trousers up and told the girl not to say anything to their family members.
Another incident occurred that same year while the girl was watching television in the living room.
Her father again called her into his bedroom, where he rubbed himself against the child before telling her not to inform anyone about it.
The abuse continued into 2011, when the girl was in Primary 3. Her two siblings were asleep in the living room when her father again called her into his room and asked her to perform a sex act on him.
GIRL'S BOYFRIEND URGED HER TO TELL HER MOTHER
The abuse went undetected for years until the girl got a boyfriend when she was in secondary school. In the first half of 2017, the girl told her boyfriend about the incidents with her father.
Her boyfriend told her to tell her mother about it, but the child "expressed concern that it would break up the family", Deputy Public Prosecutors Asoka Markandu and Kayal Pillay said.
She eventually told her mother about the abuse. The woman confronted her husband, who admitted that he had sexually abused their daughter when she was in primary school. After seeking the girl's forgiveness, the family decided to let the matter rest.
However, the girl continued dating her boyfriend and her parents were not supportive of their relationship, reminding her to focus on her studies.
FATHER FIGHTS BOYFRIEND, ABUSE REVEALED
In March last year, when the girl was returning home with her boyfriend at around 3am following a meal and an evening school concert, her father saw them walking together and became angry.
The father and the girl's boyfriend threw punches at each other, but no one was injured.
A week after that, during a parent-teacher session, the girl's mother complained to her teacher that her daughter came home late, blaming her boyfriend for being a bad influence.
When the teacher confronted the boyfriend and scolded him, he broke down and told her about the sexual abuse his girlfriend had suffered in her own home.
The school immediately alerted the Ministry of Social and Family Development and a police report was filed.
The girl told the police that she had been sexually abused on multiple occasions between 2010 and 2013, saying that the abuse stopped only when she was in Primary 6. Her father was arrested and placed in remand.
READ: Piano teacher accused of sexually assaulting 5-year-old student pleads guilty to reduced charge
The prosecution on Monday asked the court to sentence the man to at least 12 years' jail, with an additional one year's jail term in lieu of caning, as he is above the age of 50 and cannot be caned.
They said he was persistent in his conduct, abusing his daughter over several years.
"The accused flagrantly abused the trust of the victim in committing the present offences," said the prosecutors. "The fact that the accused had embarked on his offending conduct by taking advantage of his daughter when she approached him for help with her homework underscores the degree of trust she placed in him which he had flagrantly breached."
They added that the girl was "exceptionally vulnerable", younger than the stipulated age ceiling of 14.
MAN'S ACTIONS REACTIVE, HAD MARITAL PROBLEMS: DEFENCE
The man's lead defence lawyer Wendell Wong asked instead for 10 years' jail, saying that his client's actions were "a reactive phenomenon" because of his frustrations over his marital problems.
"With the current age of the accused, even with a 10-year imprisonment term, he will miss the next phase of the growing up years of his children," said Mr Wong. "It's not a short sentence at all. He will have to pay the price for his misdeeds."
Referring to a letter written by the victim to her father, Mr Wong said the pair still have a bond between them.
He added that the offences had stopped after a few years, and his colleague Bryan Wong told the court that the family "has demonstrated some signs of forgiveness".
In sentencing, Justice See Kee Oon said he recognised that the man was remorseful and had indicated his intention to plead guilty at an early opportunity.
"I take the view that his remorse is still relevant even in 2017 when he was first confronted but did not then face immediate arrest," said the judge.
"Nevertheless, the offences are grave and involve serious aggravating factors in the context of the father-daughter relationship. There was abuse of trust, a vulnerable victim, offences protracted over four years when the victim was still very young. I also take the view that imprisonment in lieu of caning is warranted."
He allowed the man's wife time to speak to her husband after the hearing.