Man accused of sexually abusing daughter over 7 years acquitted of all 13 charges

A 37-year-old man accused of sexually grooming and abusing his daughter, from when she was five or six years old until she was 12, was acquitted of all 13 charges by a High Court judge on Thursday , March 21.


The Singaporean man was cleared of 13 charges, including 12 for aggravated rape and sexual assault and one for showing pornography to his daughter.


Justice Valerie Thean found parts of the man’s testimony strange, but said his credibility as a witness was not relevant if the prosecution fails to meet its burden of proving the offences beyond a reasonable doubt.


The man faced one count of aggravated statutory rape, 10 counts of aggravated sexual assault by penetration, one count of committing an indecent act with a child, and one count of exhibiting an obscene object to a young person.


The alleged acts were purportedly committed between 2012 and 2019 at various locations including the family home, the man’s office, and a carpark near the family home.


The man contended that none of the incidents happened, and fought the charges in a trial that began on Nov 8, 2022.


The girl is now 16 and estranged from her family. She and her father cannot be named owing to a gag order.


An important piece of evidence considered by the judge surrounded the sex toys that the girl alleged her father had used on her.


Justice Thean found that the girl’s evidence did not reconcile with the dates the prosecution said the toys were purchased.


The man had also denied using the toys on his daughter. He said he ordered one to surprise his wife on their anniversary, and a second one came along with it for free.


Justice Thean said the man’s testimony regarding the sex toys was “rather strange”, as he had admitted that his wife did not enjoy using such toys, had placed his order just two days before the anniversary, and ultimately did not use the toys with his wife.


However, the judge said: “Acquittal is required even where the accused person’s testimony contains discrepancies, so long as there remain significant inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case that generate a reasonable doubt.”


Prosecutors had also argued that the man did not suggest any possible motive as to why his daughter would want to frame him.


But Justice Thean said the absence of a proved motive was, in itself, insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


The judge found that the testimony of the girl, referred to as C in the judgment, was uncorroborated by other evidence.


Justice Thean concluded that it was unsafe to convict the man of the charges because the girl’s testimony was not so “unusually convincing” that it can overcome doubts arising from the lack of corroboration.


The judge said: “Whilst C presented as a young witness trying her best to remember, the question of whether a complainant is unusually convincing must be premised upon the reliability of her evidence.


“It may be that the passage of time, coupled with her youth at the time of the offences, made clarity and recollection difficult.”


The girl is the elder of two children. Her brother is five years her junior.


In 2019, she began telling her friends that she had been sexually abused.


On Sept 1, 2019, the girl wrote a letter addressed to her mother, in which she claimed that there was a sex toy on the shelf in her room, and that her father had used it on her a few times.


She sent a screenshot of the letter to a schoolmate, and showed the letter to two other schoolmates.


On Sept 3, 2019, a teacher at the girl’s school noticed scars on her wrist and asked her why she had harmed herself. The girl said she was feeling stressed and unhappy as she was neglected at home.


The school counsellor met her parents on Sept 5, 2019, and suggested that she should go for counselling.


In the meantime, one of the schoolmates, who was shown the letter, told her own mother about C’s revelation. In turn, the schoolmate’s mother told a teacher about the allegations.


On Sept 13, 2019, the school counsellor asked C about the allegations, and the girl recounted certain incidents.


The counsellor alerted the principal and a police report was made. The girl was sent for a medical examination later that day.


In court, the girl said that in 2012 or 2013, when she was in kindergarten, she was in the same bathtub as her brother, when her father told her to commit an indecent act on the man.


But the man said he could not have been bathing his son, who was at most one year and one month old, since he did not dare to bathe infants.


The girl said that on Sept 4, 2019, while she was baking cookies with her father, he made her perform oral sex on him.


He denied this, saying he did not bake cookies with her as he was very tired that day, and was rushing some work.


In another alleged incident, she said her father assaulted her with a sex toy on Sept 11, 2019.


She initially testified that she had not seen the toy before that night. This contradicted the letter she wrote on Sept 1, 2019, where she made references to a sex toy, the judge noted.


The girl could not remember when her father started using sex toys on her, and said it could have begun in 2018 when she was in Primary 5. This was inconsistent with two other accounts provided by the girl.


In one account given during her medical examination, she said her father started using a sex toy on her from June 2019.


In the other account, the girl told the school counsellor that her father had used sex toys on her when she was in Primary 4 and 5, in 2017 and 2018 respectively.


The judge noted that the prosecution’s evidence was that the toys were delivered to the man only on Aug 20, 2019.


The man’s acquittal has shocked many and sparked conversations about victims not being believed.

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