Two charged with child abuse at Pertapis Children's Home

SINGAPORE - Two people were hauled to court on Thursday to face child abuse charges at Pertapis Children's Home.

Muhammad Abdul Gani, 26, and Filipino national Joanne Joy Coloma Dadiz, 29, were working in the home at Kovan Road when the alleged offences were committed.

Muhammad faces 10 charges of ill-treating eight children - five boys and two girls, aged between four and 11 - under his care between 2012 and January last year.

Dadiz is accused of one count of ill-treating an 11-year-old girl, the ninth victim, by wilfully doing an act which was likely to endanger her safety. Dadiz had sat on the girl's back for about three minutes as she was lying face down on the floor. The alleged offence occurred some time in December 2013.

In two of the charges, Muhammad is alleged to have put a four-year-old boy inside a cupboard, and on a separate occasion in 2013, grabbed his head below his ears and lifted him off the ground.

Muhammad allegedly used a wooden cane to hit three boys, aged eight to 10, and a 10-year-old girl, to cause them unnecessary physical pain.

In 2012, he allegedly kicked a chair a nine-year-old girl was standing on, causing her to fall off. Then in January last year, he allegedly slapped the same girl, then 10, on her right cheek.

Muhammad's lawyer, Mr Abdul Jalil Muhammad Tahir, said he had just been briefed and sought an adjournment to make representations.

Dadiz, who claimed trial, said she intends to get a lawyer.

Their cases have been fixed for a pre-trial conference on May 18.

Bail of $20,000 was offered to Muhammad and bail of $10,000 to Dadiz. They were ordered not to approach the victims or their family directly or indirectly.

If convicted, they could be fined up to $4,000 and/or jailed for up to four years on each charge.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development had lodged a police report in February last year, after receiving a tip-off about some children in the home receiving inappropriate physical punishment from some of the home's staff members.