15 years' jail, 24 strokes for sexually abusing stepdaughter

For close to 1½ years, a man sexually assaulted his stepdaughter regularly, even while his wife lay asleep on the same bed.

The girl, who was eight when the abuse started, would cry when she had to return from her weekend stay with her biological father to the flat she shared with her mother and stepfather.

Her father found out about the abuse only after her cries turned hysterical on one occasion.

Yesterday, the stepfather, a 42-year-old canteen helper, was sentenced to 15 years' jail and the maximum 24 strokes of the cane. He pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge of sexual assault by penetration of a minor and two charges of molestation of a minor. Another seven molestation charges were taken into consideration.

In sentencing, Justice Valerie Thean rejected his lawyer's plea for judicial mercy on the basis that the man was legally blind and diagnosed with glaucoma, which would cause him undue hardship in prison.

The judge said there were no exceptional circumstances to warrant the exercise of judicial mercy and she has been assured the prison authorities would be able to manage his condition.

The parties cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the victim's identity. The court heard that the girl's parents divorced in 2009, with the mother getting custody of all four children. The father, who remarried, was granted access to the children on alternate Sundays.

After the mother remarried in 2013, the children lived in the same flat with their mother, the accused, the couple's two children, their mother's parents and grandaunt, and a domestic worker. The victim slept in the same room as her mother, stepfather and step-siblings.

 

In January 2015, when the girl was in Primary 3, the man began sexually abusing her, even though his wife slept in the same room and often on the same bed.

The girl either pretended to be asleep while he violated her or resisted by turning her body away.

On Oct 17, 2016, she cried hysterically and refused to enter the flat when her father took her and her siblings home.

She revealed the abuse to him and he made a police report the next day.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2019, with the headline '15 years' jail, 24 strokes for sexually abusing stepdaughter'. Print Edition | Subscribe