Jail for maid seen on video abusing child

Filipino domestic worker Jean Calma Cornel abuses her employer's three year old daughter.
Filipino domestic worker Jean Calma Cornel abuses her employer's three year old daughter. PHOTO: ST FILE

The mother of a child did not suspect anything when she found frequent bruising on her young daughter's face, neck and legs until someone told her she had seen a video of her Filipino maid slapping the child several times.

The video was taken discreetly by another Filipino domestic worker, whose advice to Christy Jean Calma Cornel not to mistreat the child fell on deaf ears.

On several occasions, Cornel, 32, took her employer's three-year- old daughter to visit the 33-year- old Filipina, Ms Marietta Tagora Aslor, who worked nearby.

Yesterday, Cornel was jailed for four months for slapping the girl, strangling her and pulling her hair, as well as hitting her with an umbrella. A third charge of lifting the child off the floor momentarily to pinch her cheeks was taken into consideration.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hairul Hakkim said that since Cornel had started work in March last year, her 46-year-old employer had found bruises on the child's face, neck and legs.

She thought her daughter had hurt herself while playing.

The truth came out in June this year when a resident in her neighbourhood said she had seen a video of Cornel slapping the girl's face several times.

The court heard that Cornel and the girl were in the other Filipino maid's room on May 17 when she abused the child for crying and not stopping. On June 18, Cornel hit her with an umbrella when she refused to put on her slippers.

After watching the video clips shown in open court yesterday, Cornel, with her head bowed, said through a Tagalog interpreter that she realised what she had done was "so painful" because she was a mother herself.

"Precisely," said Judge Hamidah Ibrahim, and asked how old her children were.

Cornel, a widow of eight years, said they were 11 and nine, and agreed with the judge that she would not want them to be hurt.

The judge said it was fortuitous that there appeared to be no physical injuries to the child or the sentence would have been much higher.

"And while you have pleaded guilty, it would appear that the evidence is overwhelming against you," said the judge, who backdated her sentence to July 13.

Pleading for a second chance, Cornel wrote in her mitigation letter that she was a sole breadwinner, would not repeat her mistake, was sorry and prayed the family would forgive her.

She could have been fined up to $4,000 and/or jailed for up to four years on each charge of ill-treating a child.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2016, with the headline 'Jail for maid seen on video abusing child'. Print Edition | Subscribe