SINGAPORE: A man who adopted his daughter when she was an infant began molesting her when she was six years old, after her kindergarten graduation ceremony.
The 65-year-old man cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, who is now 18. He was sentenced to 32 months' jail on Thursday (Nov 18), with an additional 10 weeks' jail in lieu of caning.
The man pleaded guilty to one charge of molesting a minor and another charge of molestation. Another two charges of committing an indecent act with a child and molestation were taken into consideration.
The court heard that the man worked as a hawker with his 46-year-old wife.
He adopted the victim when she was a baby, but she did not know she was adopted even up till she filed a police report, believing him to be her biological father.
Between the two parents, the man's wife was the disciplinarian, while he played the "good cop" role, the prosecutor said.
THE FIRST INCIDENT
In 2009, when the victim was six, she returned home to the family flat from her kindergarten graduation performance and rested on a bed.
The man molested her on the bed and made her perform an indecent act on him.
The girl realised that what he had been doing to her was wrong when she took sex education lessons as part of her school curriculum in 2014.
She worked out that her adoptive father had been sexually assaulting her, but did not tell anyone about his inappropriate actions as she feared no one would believe her.
In 2018, when the victim was 15, she had a heated argument with her adoptive mother, who then threw the girl's phone on the floor.
"NOW THAT I HAVE PASSED YOU MONEY, I CAN TOUCH YOU"
The offender gave the victim money and asked her to use it to repair her phone. After taking the money, the victim turned around to drink some water in the kitchen.
He then hugged her from behind and whispered "now that I have passed you money, I can touch you". The victim said "no", but he molested her anyway.
She elbowed her adoptive father and left the kitchen. That same year, the man also molested the girl by rubbing her abdomen and attempting to remove her shorts, in a charge taken into consideration.
As a result of the sexual abuse, the girl began staying out late to avoid him and turned to alcohol.
When her adoptive mother found out that she had been drinking, she chased her out of the family flat. The court heard that the girl had been drinking to suppress the feelings she had over the sexual abuse.
As she did not have a place to sleep at, the victim later called a friend and a school counsellor, revealing that her adoptive father had sexually assaulted her. She met her school counsellor and principal in early October 2020 and told them what happened. They subsequently accompanied her to a police station to lodge a report.
The man was arrested on Oct 2, 2020, and remanded from the next day. He admitted that he had been touching the victim for many years, and said he knew it was wrong to do so.
The victim is now on her own and renting a flat. She works part-time to support herself, the prosecutor said in response to the judge's questioning about her care arrangements.
The prosecutor asked for 35 months' jail, with an additional 16 weeks in lieu of caning as the man is above 50 and cannot be caned. He said caning would have been imposed if not for his age, adding that six years old is very far from the statutory age of 14.
DEFENCE ASKS FOR "FAIR" SENTENCE
Defence lawyer Raphael Louis opened by stating that there is no excuse for what his client has done.
"He did wrong. It's a serious crime, your honour," he said, adding that he was asking for a fair sentence that was not crushing.
"From the start, (my client) had no intention to claim trial. He did what was wrong and is willing to accept punishment."
He asked for 20 months' jail, with no additional jail time in lieu of caning. He objected to the prosecutor's assertion that the offender knew he would be exempted from caning, saying that there is no basis for that assertion and that his client is lowly educated.
"It's a serious crime, but there's absolutely no basis for a submission to be made that if he knew he was caught he would not be caned," said Mr Louis.
District Judge Janet Wang said an additional jail term should be imposed in lieu of caning. She noted that the offences were committed within the sanctity of the family home, adding that the offender "displayed a sustained pattern of offending conduct over a period of nine years".
AN INSIDIOUS ELEMENT OF SEXUAL GROOMING: JUDGE
"His acts of depravity were brought to bear on the victim from childhood to adolescence," she said, adding that the impact on the victim was significant.
The victim was psychologically damaged, taking to alcohol consumption and staying out as a part of her coping mechanisms, said the judge.
"It is therefore fortuitous to hear that she has struck out an independent life," said Judge Wang.
She added that there was "an insidious element of sexual grooming", noting how the man gave money to the victim before his sexual conduct.
While noting that he has pleaded guilty and has no previous convictions, the judge said he cannot be described as a first-time offender given the protracted nature of his offending conduct.
However, she noted that the sentence must be proportionate with the man's overall criminality and "ought not to give vent to excessive indignation and righteousness".
She concluded: "On a final note, this is a sad case. It will take many years for parties involved to mend ties and achieve reconciliation, if at all."