SINGAPORE - Two sisters who were sexually exploited by their mother's boyfriend suffered in silence for years, not knowing that the other had also been abused.
The younger girl, who was targeted when she was between 10 and 12 years old, eventually told a school researcher what the man had done.
Investigations revealed that the older girl had been molested when she was 17.
On Monday (June 28), the man, a 53-year-old barber, was sentenced to 23 years' jail by the High Court.
The sentence imposed by Justice Valerie Thean included a six-month term in lieu of 24 strokes of the cane. The man cannot be caned as he is over 50 years old.
He pleaded guilty in May to two counts of aggravated sexual assault by penetration in relation to the younger girl, and one count of outrage of modesty in relation to the older girl.
Another nine charges were taken into consideration. These include one of attempted rape, two of aggravated sexual assault by penetration and three of outrage of modesty.
The man cannot be named under a gag order to protect the victims, who are now 14 and 24.
The court heard that the girls grew up without a father figure.
After the mother gave birth to the younger girl, she stopped living with her husband. They divorced in 2019.
In 2008, the older girl was admitted into a children's home as the mother had no means to take care of her.
The mother, 53, met the accused in 2010 and they started a romantic relationship.
In 2011, the younger girl was also admitted into the children's home.
Between August and September 2015, the older girl ran away from the home and stayed with her mother and the man.
During this time, he squeezed her breasts and told her not to tell her mother about it. She complied as she feared being sent back to the home.
Between June 2017 and December 2018, the man turned his attention to the younger girl when she was staying with him and her mother while she was on home leave.
The abuse started with him squeezing her breasts and later progressed to penetrative acts.
He preyed on her when he was alone at home with her. Once, he looked out of the window to make sure that his girlfriend had left the vicinity of the block before he told the girl to go to his room.
He told her not to tell anyone about it.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai sought at least 22 years and nine months' jail, with an additional one-year term in lieu of caning.
He noted that the abuse had affected the mental health of the younger victim, who engaged in acts of self-harm whenever she recalled what the man had done to her.