SINGAPORE: A 48-year-old man admitted on Tuesday (Nov 26) to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl who “regarded him as her godfather” and was friends with his son.
The man - who cannot be named due to a gag order protecting the identity of the victim - took advantage of her twice over the course of a few months and scolded the teenager for betraying him when his deeds were eventually discovered by her mother.
On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual penetration of a minor under 16, one charge of outrage of modesty and one charge of perversion of justice.
The man, who is unemployed, lives alone and is divorced with two sons.
The court heard that the man is a serial offender who has been convicted multiple times since the 1980s for crimes ranging from robbery and possession of obscene films to disorderly behaviour.
He was most recently convicted in 2006 for raping and outraging the modesty of a 16-year-old, and was released from prison in 2013.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Zu Zhao noted the man’s 30-year “extensive criminal history” and previous “significantly serious” sexual offences.
He cited “alarming similarities” between the current case and the charges he was convicted for in 2006, saying that both the victims were young and vulnerable and there were “some elements of grooming” involved in both cases.
The man first met his most recent victim in early-to-mid 2017.
She had run away from home and was hanging out with a group of friends at a common area of a public housing estate in the east of Singapore.
He introduced himself to the group as “Papa” and gave them cigarettes.
After that, the victim would see him every time she hung out in the area.
Eventually, the victim became close to the man and regarded him as her godfather, the court heard. Prior to meeting the man, she was already friends with his son.
The man treated the victim like his daughter, the court heard, and would send her text messages daily and send her to school and pick her up.
The girl would also stay over at the man’s home every time she ran away from home or decided to skip school, and would sleep on either a queen-sized mattress or a sofa-bed.
The victim also introduced her close friend to the man, and the two of them would frequently meet with him and spend time in his flat.
They treated it as a “safe haven”, the Deputy Public Prosecutor said, adding that the man would give the girls food and cigarettes each time they were at his home. He also gave them pocket money occasionally.
TOLD VICTIM TO “RELAX” AFTER PULLING HER JEANS DOWN
Around August 2017, the man began giving massages to the victim and her friend while they were lying down, without them asking for it, said Mr Lee.
He would start by massaging their legs before gradually moving up to their bodies.
On an afternoon sometime between August and September 2017, the victim was lying down on the mattress in the man’s house while using her mobile phone. She was alone with him in the flat after her friend and the man’s son had left.
The man sat down on the mattress near the victim’s legs before beginning to massage them over her jeans. He gradually moved his hands up her legs while massaging her, before pulling her jeans and underwear down.
The victim told him that she “felt uncomfortable with what he was doing”, said Mr Lee.
He then told her to relax, before sexually assaulting her.
Following that, the victim “felt great discomfort” and “told him to stop”, and the man complied.
PULLED HER JEANS DOWN WHILE SHE WAS ASLEEP
A few months later between December 2017 and January 2018, the victim and her friend were sleeping on a mattress in the man’s home at night.
The victim woke up in the middle of the night to find that the man had pulled her jeans and underwear down to her knees without her consent. The man had done so while the victim was asleep, intending to outrage her modesty, said Mr Lee.
Her friend was asleep throughout this incident. The victim pulled up her clothes and got off the mattress, and the man apologised to her.
WENT INTO HIDING WHEN HE HEARD THAT POLICE WERE LOOKING FOR HIM
The court head that the victim’s mother lodged a police report on Jan 25 last year after finding out about the incidents. Court documents did not elaborate on how she found out about the incidents.
The victim, upon finding out her mother had made a police report, informed the man, who then went into hiding when he heard that the police were looking for him.
Between Feb 8 and 10, the man sent Instagram messages to the victim, scolding her for “betraying him” and reminding her of “all the ways that he had helped her”.
He also asked her to reveal what she had told the police in her statements.
Mr Lee said that with this information, the man intended to tailor his evidence to the police and “pervert the course of justice”.
He surrendered to the police on Feb 26 after making a call to the investigating officer about a week prior to his arrest to explain that he would give himself up after Chinese New Year.
The offender “has not learned his lesson” despite his seven-year sentence, caning and corrective training in 2006, said Mr Lee.
His offences in 2017 were “in the same nature” as that of what the corrective training was meant to change, said Mr Lee, adding that the man needed "to be kept away from the public”.
Sentencing was adjourned to next month.
For sexual penetration of a minor under 14, he could be jailed up to 20 years, fined or caned.