SINGAPORE, May 14 — A 42-year-old man who initially intended to plead guilty to the sexual assault of his young stepdaughter now faces more serious charges after his guilty plea was turned down.
The man’s plea was rejected after he told the High Court that the victim, who was aged eight and nine years of age at the time of the alleged assaults, had made advances on him. He cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim.
When asked if he agreed with the statement of facts presented in court, the accused did not deny what he had done. However, he said there were certain portions which he felt had been omitted.
For instance, he claimed that the victim had made advances on him, which he had rejected, and had even placed his hands on her private parts.
Yet, despite this, he said he wanted to plead guilty as he felt the case had dragged on for too long and had caused him and his family undue stress. “Only God can help me now,” he said.
In response, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kavita Uthrapathy said the accused made it seem like he was “being forced to plead guilty, when it is not the case”.
Justice Valerie Thean rejected the accused’s plea on the basis that he did not accept the statement of facts. She also raised the accused’s bail from the current S$50,000 to S$80,000.
The accused’s lawyer, Mr Tan Jeh Yaw, has discharged himself from the case. The prosecution also withdrew their guilty plea offer.
The accused now faces a new set of charges, which includes a more serious charge of attempted rape of a minor, for which the prosecution had previously sought a discharge not amounting to acquittal, as part of the guilty plea offer.
If found guilty of this charge, the accused could be sentenced to a jail term of between eight and 20 years. He could also receive at least 12 strokes of the cane.
The next hearing date has yet to be set by the court.
The man was originally intending to plead guilty today (May 14) to one charge of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter in 2015, and two charges of outraging her modesty in 2016. He had faced another seven charges of aggravated outrage of modesty of his stepdaughter.
What allegedly happened
The court heard that the accused began living with the victim, who is now 12, after marrying her mother in April 2013. The victim’s mother had gained custody of all her four children following her divorce from the victim’s biological father in 2009.
Around January 2015, at the time the alleged crimes started, the victim was living in her maternal grandparents’ home along with mother, step-father, their two children, her biological siblings, a grand-aunt and a maid.
Ms Kavita told the court that the victim, who had been addressing the accused as “Abah”, or father in the Malay language, slept in the same bedroom as her mother, the accused and her step-siblings.
The accused initially limited himself to just touching the victim’s private parts over her clothes, she said. However, as his “lust for his stepdaughter grew”, so did the audacity of the various sex acts he committed on her up until October 14, 2016.
Ms Kavita added that accused would sometimes commit the acts on his stepdaughter while he lay in bed with her mother. All this while, the victim pretended to be asleep as she was afraid that the accused would get angry with her.
During this period, the victim’s biological father had regular access to his daughter. The victim was often reluctant to return to the home of her maternal grandparents, but he typically rationalised it as her wanting to spend more time with him.
However, on Oct 17, 2016, he suspected something was amiss when the victim became hysterical when it was time for her to return home.
The victim eventually told him that she had been sexually assaulted by her stepfather and he filed a police report the following day.
The court heard that the victim has since moved in with her biological father and his wife. — TODAY