SINGAPORE - A cleaner repeatedly molested his young stepdaughter for almost two years but she suffered in silence as she felt her mother would not believe her if she revealed her ordeal.
The offences, which started in 2015 when the girl was just 11 years old, came to light in January last year after she attended a sex education class in school.
The youngster confided in a classmate before alerting their form teacher who notified the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
The cleaner, who cannot be named to protect the victim's identity, pleaded guilty in court on Thursday (Jan 25) to five counts of outraging his stepdaughter's modesty.
Ten other similar charges involving the same girl will be considered during sentencing.
He committed these offences between January 2015 and August 2016, the court heard.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Ee Ling said the girl's mother married the cleaner in 2014. At that time, the child was under the care of her maternal grandmother and aunt.
However, the man, now 53, told his wife that her daughter could live with them in their one-room rental flat and they took her in.
The sexual assault started just four months after the girl moved in. She was alone at home with him at that time.
DPP Chee said: "She sought permission from the accused to go to a playground but the accused asked the victim to have sex with him.
"The victim refused and the accused told her that she can't go to the playground to play if she refused to accede to his demands."
She was watching television when he hugged her tightly from behind and kissed her cheek before fondling her chest over her clothes.
"The victim struggled to no avail as the accused was too strong...The victim was fearful but remained silent as she felt that there was no one she could confide in," said DPP Chee.
Emboldened, the man's offences became more serious over time.
The court heard that he injured his right shoulder after falling in June 2016.
He was then given medical leave from July to August that year - giving him ample time alone at home with the girl.
On one occasion, she was lying on the floor watching television when he stripped her from the waist down despite her protests. He then undressed and molested her.
In another occasion, the pair were alone at home again when he performed a similar act.
The girl finally told her teacher about her ordeal last January and police arrested her stepfather on Feb 1.
On Thursday, DPP Chee urged District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt to jail the man for at least nine years. As the cleaner is over 50, she asked the court to sentence him to another 30 weeks' jail in lieu of caning.
Stressing that the man had abused his position of trust, she added that the offences were committed in the sanctity of their home.
The man will be sentenced on Jan 30. For each count of molestation, he could be jailed for up to five years and fined.