Stepdad cleared of sex offences

A 42-year-old man was on Thursday (Aug 25) acquitted of four charges of sexual offences against his stepdaughter.
A 42-year-old man was on Thursday (Aug 25) acquitted of four charges of sexual offences against his stepdaughter.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 42-year-old man was on Thursday (Aug 25) acquitted of four charges of sexual offences against his stepdaughter, after the High Court found reasonable doubt in the truth of the girl's accusations.

The main evidence for the prosecution was two statements she had given to the police in 2012, after she made a report saying that her stepfather had molested her.

But when she took the stand to testify during his trial this year, the girl, now 17, recanted her allegations.

When the prosecution tried to get her to give her account during examination-in-chief, she either said that she could not remember the events or that no such thing happened.

Under cross-examination by the defence, she said she had lied to the police.

Her mother and an aunt also testified that in the past, the girl had made false accusations about being assaulted by others.

Among other things, she lied that her paternal grandfather hit her with a bamboo stick, her maternal grandmother threw a wooden stool at her, and that she was beaten up by some girls in a school toilet.

In a written judgment on Thursday, Justice Woo Bih Li said it was quite clear that the girl "had chosen not to give any substantive evidence during examination-in-chief for reasons best known to herself and not because she could not truly remember."

He noted that the prosecution had applied for her to refer to her two police statements to refresh her memory. However, she did not want to read the statements.

Justice Woo noted that if she truly could not remember, she would have considered the contents of the statements to refresh her memory.

Arising from the girl's police report and statements, her stepfather was charged with three counts of committing an indecent act with a child and one count of sexual assault by penetration.

The four offences were alleged to have taken place on the afternoon of July 27, 2012. The man denied committing any of alleged acts. He surmised that she falsely accused him because he had rejected her after she confessed her feelings for him and because she wanted attention from her mother.