Man sexually abused wife's nephew for 4 years from when the victim was in kindergarten, gets jail
SINGAPORE: A man sexually abused his wife's nephew from when the victim was in kindergarten, progressing to sexual assault when he was eight years old.
The abuse, called "depraved" and "disgusting" by the prosecution, was uncovered only after the victim was caught taking upskirt images in his secondary school and broke down about his ordeal.
The now 54-year-old man was sentenced on Monday (Sep 7) to 22 years' jail for one count of aggravated sexual assault by penetration and another count of attempted aggravated sexual assault.
He pleaded guilty to the charges, and had another five counts of molesting the boy and two counts of aggravated sexual assault taken into consideration for sentencing.
All parties cannot be named due to gag orders imposed by the court to protect the victim's identity.
The court heard that the man was a technician who lived with his wife and son. They stayed at the flat of the victim's grandmother, who took the victim in soon after he was born as his parents had a divorce.
The boy addressed the accused as his father, and slept in the living room with his maternal grandmother and the accused's son.
The man began sexually exploiting the victim in 2010, when the boy was in Kindergarten 2 and about five years old.
He first molested the boy when they were alone in the kitchen, and the boy "laughed as he thought the accused was being playful", not understanding that his actions were wrong, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Gregory Gan.
Over time, as he faced no pushback, the man progressed in his acts of molestation. He eventually sexually assaulted the boy in his bedroom toilet between 2013 and 2014, when the boy was eight to 10 years old.
He attempted to sexually assault him again between 2013 and 2014, when the boy was playing on his tablet in the bedroom.
The man instructed the boy to follow him into the toilet, before sexually assaulting him and attempting to commit a second act against him.
The boy felt pain and told the older man so, and the accused eventually stopped his acts and told the boy to leave.
BOY CAUGHT RECORDING UPSKIRT VIDEO
Because of the youth of the victim, he did not realise that what the accused had done to him was wrong until he attended sex education classes in 2017 when he was in Secondary 1.
A year later, the victim was caught recording an upskirt video and was referred to the school counsellor.
During the counselling session, the teenager broke down and told the counsellor that his uncle had sexually abused him since he was in kindergarten.
The counsellor alerted the school management and the police were informed.
The victim was referred for a psychiatric assessment. The report stated that he felt distressed when made to describe details of the abuse, and had experienced some post-traumatic stress symptoms in 2018 which later improved.
The victim also revealed that he felt "some anger" towards the accused over the sexual abuse, but also felt guilt towards the accused's son for the distress caused by his reporting of the abuse.
The prosecutor, Mr Gan, asked for at least 22 years' jail and an additional 12 months' jail in lieu of 24 strokes of the cane.
He said the victim was very vulnerable, and only five to six years old when the abuse began, and eight to 10 years old when the sexual assault by penetration occurred.
"Sexually assaulting one’s young nephew is the kind of conduct that would offend the sensibilities of members of the public and would definitely cause disquiet in the community," said Mr Gan.
He added that the offences escalated over a four-year period, with the man persistently exploiting his nephew and brazenly abusing the trust the boy had in him.
The sentence imposed must "reflect the community's disgust at such acts", he said.
The boy treated the accused as a significant father figure, since he did not have one, and the sexual abuse is "a great betrayal of his trust", added Mr Gan.
Instead of giving the boy moral guidance, the accused instead "corrupted" his nephew, said the prosecutor.
He said the accused had sexually groomed the boy, exposing him and conditioning him from a young age to the sexual activity so it was easier for older man to continue his acts.
DEFENCE ASKS FOR 20 YEARS
Defence lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy objected to this point, saying that sexual grooming refers to cases where accused persons build trust before exploiting that trust. He pointed out that in this case, the accused did not build trust as it was already established.
The judge acknowledged that grooming might not be the best word for this situation but maintained that there was clearly an escalation of abuse.
The defence also argued that no additional jail term should be imposed in lieu of caning, citing a previous judgment that said it should be imposed only in specific circumstances and while considering the total sentence.
"Here, without an additional term, the accused would already be facing 22 years," said Mr Ganapathy. "This in my view is substantial."
He asked for 20 years' jail instead, conceding that there was abuse of trust, a vulnerable victim involved and degradation when he made the victim ingest bodily fluids.
Justice Valerie Thean said the "concerning feature" of this case was the accused's "escalating conduct". She agreed with the defence that 22 years' jail was substantial and declined to impose an additional year's jail in lieu of caning.
The accused's wife and son were in court and the judge allowed them to speak to the accused after the hearing.
For sexual assault by penetration of a minor, he could have been jailed between eight and 20 years. Had he been below 50, he could have been given at least 12 strokes of the cane.