SINGAPORE - A mother, together with a male colleague, turned her two children against their father during divorce proceedings so much so that their 15-year-old daughter publicly alleged that her father had sexually abused her as well as her younger brother.
But these allegations were unfounded, and the woman was found to have breached court orders by involving her children in the acrimonious divorce, in which she and her children accused the father of being a "Mega-evolved Sexual Fetishist Womanising Pervert".
In judgment documents released this week, Justice Debbie Ong said a parent has a responsibility to facilitate a child's relationship with the other parent.
"While children will have their own opinions and make their own decisions especially as they mature, parents cannot disclaim all responsibility for their actions," she said.
The High Court judge, in the grounds for her decision in the case, said the current state of affairs could largely be traced back to the colleague's role in the family.
The male colleague, whom the father accused of being the mother's lover, had moved into the couple's home after the woman was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2016, several months after divorce proceedings began in April that year. The woman's colleague claimed to be able to heal her tumours despite having no medical training, and she paid him $15,000 a month to "remove" them.
The father grew concerned for his son and daughter, aged nine and 15 now, after he learnt of a claim made by the woman in February 2018 that the male colleague had performed a "home mastectomy" on her. There were suggestions that the children were present at or at least were aware of the "surgeries". He applied to take over care and control of the children from their mother in the interim, which a district judge granted.
The wife appealed against this decision to the High Court. Justice Ong eventually ruled that the children were to be under her care and control, but reserved harsh words for the mother.
"What was especially troubling was the extent to which the wife and (her colleague) embroiled the children in the conflict," said Justice Ong in her judgment, noting that the children's affidavits, which were drafted by the colleague, were "greatly disturbing".
They "echoed biblical references and phrases" and allegations by the woman and her colleague in their own affidavits, which were filed from March 2018.
The children had enjoyed a loving relationship with their father some months before, said Justice Ong, noting that, prior to late 2017, the children enjoyed spending time with him.
The children were highly resistant to their father after the appeal, and they went back to their mother a day after they were placed in their father's care in November 2018. Justice Ong then ordered that they be placed in a home temporarily. The children returned to the mother about a month later and have continued to live with her since.
In June and July 2019, the daughter posted the sexual assault allegations on her social media accounts, and, along with her brother, was interviewed by at least one online news outlet with their mother present. The daughter also made a police report "confessing" that she and her brother were solely responsible for the posts and interview.
But the mother admitted that the police report was an attempt to absolve her from any responsibility, said Justice Ong.
"The wife had relentlessly polarised them against the husband to such an extent that any repair of their relationship with their father was not practically feasible," said Justice Ong, who found that the mother had undermined her children's emotional and psychological well-being.
The mother had informed her children of material in court proceedings, involved them in the conflict, and actively allowed her colleague to manipulate the children against their father, she added.
The woman thus breached a court order which prohibited her and the father from involving the children in the litigation. Both had also been barred from making disparaging remarks about each other to their children as well as ensure that their family and friends do not do so.
Justice Ong sentenced the wife to one weeks' jail for contempt of court. She also issued a final order for the children to be in the mother's care and control, as it was not in their welfare to be isolated from her. The woman is in ill health and separation is highly distressing for the children, Justice Ong said.
However, the mother should support access of the children to their father, she said.
This was especially important in this case in the light of the mother's ill health, as the children should be able to rely on their father, she added. The woman was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in September 2018.
"It is my hope that, in time, the children will appreciate the importance of having both parents in their lives and that their relationship with the husband will be repaired," said Justice Ong.
The mother is appealing against the jail sentence.