SINGAPORE - On multiple occasions over a five-year period, a man entered his stepdaughter's bedroom while she was asleep and molested her.
The abuse began in 2016, when the girl was nine.
Even after the girl told her mother about these incidents and her mother confronted the man, now 46, he abused the victim again by placing his private parts on her lips.
Noting the prolonged abuse and "escalation in offending behaviour", District Judge Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz on Monday (Nov 8) sentenced the man to 37 months' jail and three strokes of the cane for two charges of using criminal force to molest the girl, who was under 14 at the time.
Two other similar charges were taken into account during his sentencing.
The man and the girl cannot be named owing to a gag order on their identities.
The court heard that the man, who was then a trailer driver, had been married to the girl's mother for about 10 years as of last year. The girl is the woman's only child from her former marriage.
The girl, her stepfather and her mother lived in a flat with three younger children from the woman's marriage to the man.
The offences came to light when the girl told a close school friend last September about the abuse she had endured. Her friend told the school counsellor and a police report was later lodged.
The man admitted to molesting the girl at least four times, starting from when she was a Primary 3 pupil and continuing till she was in Secondary 1.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jia En told the court: "The accused admitted that he committed the offences against the victim as he had developed sexual desires for her, despite knowing that it was wrong of him to do so."
In 2017, when the girl was about nine or 10 years old, she was sleeping on a mattress on the floor of her bedroom when her stepfather used his hands to push her inner thighs apart. When the girl forcefully closed her legs, the man tickled her and told her to keep quiet so as to not wake her younger sister who was sleeping next to her.
The girl managed to escape and hid in the master bedroom toilet.
She later described this incident to her school counsellor as "unforgettable".
Following this incident, the girl told her mother that the man would come into her room at 3am or 4am while she was sleeping and molest her.
When her mother confronted the man, he told the victim's mother: "Time will tell and people will change."
In 2018, he went into the girl's room early in the morning while she slept and placed his private parts on her lips as the girl squeezed her mouth shut. He did this for one to two minutes before the girl's mother came into the room. The man then pretended he was trying to wake the girl up for school.
The girl later said she did not tell her mother about this incident, or about another incident after that, because she did not want to put her family in jeopardy as her siblings loved the man. She also did not want her mother to be upset.
For each charge of using criminal force to molest someone under the age of 14, offenders can be jailed for up to five years, fined, or caned, or sentenced to any combination of these punishments.