SINGAPORE: A man who began having sex with his girlfriend's 14-year-old daughter while she was at work, later impregnating the minor, was sentenced to 12 years' jail and six strokes of the cane on Monday (Nov 29).
The prosecution said the 29-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the victim's identity, had fathered the victim's child in a "disturbing twist of events" even though he had become the father figure she never had.
The offender engaged in what the prosecution called "a clandestine sexual relationship with the victim" from late 2018 to June 2020.
The prosecutors had sought between 10 and 12 years' jail and six strokes of the cane, saying that the man's offences have "irreversibly altered the trajectory of the victim's life, forcing her to assume the role and responsibilities of a mother when she is little more than a child herself".
The defence argued that the accused was "in a romantic and caring relationship with the victim" and that this was not a situation where he "went into his specific role as a parental figure" to abuse his position.
The offender pleaded guilty last month to three counts of sexual penetration of a minor, with another 16 charges taken into consideration.
He began dating the victim's mother in 2015 and later moved in to stay with her. The victim initially was not close to him, as she had been sexually abused by a family member when she was 10 to 12.
However, the offender earned the girl's trust by assuming the role of a father figure in her life, doting on her and taking her out for her favourite activities such as ice skating.
He cooked, cleaned and cared for her when she was ill and guided her with her homework, with the victim eventually calling him "daddy".
However, their relationship "developed into a sexual one" in October 2018, and the pair began having "consensual unprotected sexual intercourse regularly", the prosecutor said.
They did so until December 2019, switching to other sex acts between January and June 2020 when the victim's "pregnancy was causing too much discomfort".
The victim was admitted to hospital for labour contractions and gave birth to a baby girl in May 2020. The hospital alerted the police to the teenage pregnancy, and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority also flagged the matter to the police a few weeks later after the victim tried to register the birth of her child and was found to be under 16.
Even after the birth of the baby, the offender continued to engage in sex acts with the victim and was arrested only in early July last year.
The prosecution said that sexual penetration of a minor in the context of an exploitative relationship is "reprehensible and must be met with the full force of the law".
"The accused lived in the home that the victim shared with her mother and was the only paternal figure she had ever known," they said.
"Not only did the accused exploit the victim's immaturity and the trust she reposed in him, he also betrayed the trust of the victim's mother, with whom he was in a romantic relationship."
The prosecutors said it was "perverse - and indeed, aggravating" that the offender engaged in sexual activity with the victim when her mother was at work as the sole breadwinner of the family.
A Child Guidance Clinic report showed that the victim felt sad that she missed out on her dream of graduating with her friend in 2020 and has "passive suicidal wishes" because of the repeated sexual abuse she experienced.
She also worries that her child might hate her if she finds out about her illegitimate birth, and suffers moodiness, irritability and difficulty sleeping.