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HomesingaporeFather denies raping 12-year-old daughter; testifies about her alleged lies, self-harm behaviour

Father denies raping 12-year-old daughter; testifies about her alleged lies, self-harm behaviour

SINGAPORE: A man on trial for raping his daughter when she was 12 and sexually abusing her from the age of four testified in his own defence on Tuesday (Oct 31), denying any sexual act against the girl.

The 37-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect his daughter’s identity, is on trial for 13 charges including rape, aggravated sexual assault by penetration and showing pornography to his daughter.

The prosecution’s case is that the man began his sexual acts against his daughter when she was in kindergarten, sometime in 2012 or 2013.

This was when he was bathing with his daughter and son.

The prosecutors also allege that the man introduced his daughter to pornography when she was in Primary 3 or 4, before starting to sexually assault her when she approached puberty in 2018 or 2019.

According to the charges against the man, these assaults occurred at various places including under a table in the master bedroom, in a storeroom and in the family car.

The man is accused of raping his daughter in the master bedroom when she was 12 in August 2019. She is now 16 and estranged from her family.

According to the prosecution, the girl began engaging in self-harm, with a teacher observing cuts on her wrist on Sep 3, 2019.

The man denied the charges, giving a different version of events on Tuesday under questioning by his lawyers, Mr Ramesh Tiwary and Mr Cory Wong of Invictus Law.

Dressed in a grey suit and white shirt, the man watched several videos his lawyers played in court of himself spending time with his family.

One video showed his daughter wrapped in a towel or blanket, giggling as she was tickled, with her brother by her side, while another showed his two children laughing and playing outdoors.

He smiled as he watched the clips and told Mr Tiwary that “generally we (were) quite happy family” that tried to spend time together.

Asked about some photos of himself and his daughter, the man said they showed that “she’s close to me”.

He said he used to punish his daughter by caning her if she misbehaved. He would also scold her and confiscate her phone, which she was first given in Primary 1.

His lawyer then brought him through several incidents where his daughter purportedly lied.

DESCRIPTIONS OF DAUGHTER’S ALLEGED LIES

When the girl was in Primary 1, she purportedly pushed a boy and her teacher called the girl’s mother about this.

“When we confronted her, she actually denied until we told her the teacher has called us, then she told us what happened,” said the man.

On another occasion, he and his wife saw the girl poking her brother’s head and pushing it against the bed on closed-circuit television (CCTV).

When they talked to her about it, she denied it until they told her that they had seen everything on the CCTV camera.

At a parent-teacher meeting when the girl was in Primary 5, the teacher told the man and his wife not to cane their daughter.

She said it was normal that grades would drop as a child moved along in primary school and said their daughter had been “a very good girl”.

The accused said the mention of the caning was significant because his wife had threatened their daughter, saying that she would be caned twice per mark if she scored anything short of 90 marks.

After the meeting, the accused questioned his daughter and she denied telling her teacher about the caning threat.

“That’s where I asked her – if you didn’t share this, why will the teacher bring this up? That’s where she told me, yes, she did share this with her teacher,” the man said.

He also said his daughter was in a choir. On one occasion, he went to school a bit earlier to pick her up and saw her with a friend at the side of the school, appearing jumpy.

“I asked – I thought now is during choir, why are you all here? She said they are having a 15-minute break,” said the man.

Feeling something amiss, he got his wife to check with the teacher if their daughter had attended choir, and the answer was no.

He said this was not his daughter’s first time skipping choir. When he fetched her home that day, he questioned her but she denied skipping the co-curricular activity.

“I told her that, look, your mother has already called the choir teacher and we know that you didn’t attend choir. That’s when she told me she skipped choir and she was complaining about the choir teacher,” said the accused.

He said he and his wife changed their daughter’s phone from a Samsung model to a Nokia phone when the girl was between Primary 1 and Primary 2.

“We did this because we found out that she was accessing adult materials,” he claimed. “By changing phone, Nokia phone is 2G, no Internet access, so she can’t access any of this material.”

He said he had never shown his daughter pornographic material, as claimed in the charges against him.

“Have you ever suspected that she … may have accessed adult material?” asked the man’s lawyer.

“Yes, there is an incident like this,” he answered.

He described going home one day and hearing the sound of an object dropping. Walking towards her, he saw that she was using earphones connected to something that was hidden below some books.

He said he removed the books and saw a paused image of a video showing adult content.

Asked what object had dropped, he claimed it was a “vibrating comb”.

“I questioned her. I asked her – why are you watching this? You know you are not supposed to watch this? And please speak to your mother about this,” said the accused.

Mr Tiwary then moved to the incident in 2012 or 2013, where the man is accused of asking his daughter to commit an indecent act on him while he was bathing with her and his son in the flat’s bathroom.

The accused said his son was born in November 2012, and his wife was the one who bathed the boy.

He said he had never bathed his son himself, because he was “an infant” and very fragile.

He said he was never in a tub with his son and daughter, and did not ask her to perform a sex act on him.

Another charge alleged that the man sexually assaulted his daughter at a car park. 

He denied it, saying the car park was much further than the one near his house, and that he would usually park at the car park next to his house.

He also denied sexually assaulting her in a storeroom. He said the storeroom was filled to the brim with items and he did not ask anyone to help him in the storeroom because the things inside were very heavy.

“Can two people go inside?” asked Mr Tiwary.

“No,” answered the accused, saying he did not think that even one person could enter.

THE SEP 4 INCIDENT

The man is also accused of sexually assaulting his daughter on Sep 4, 2019 in the service yard and kitchen area of their home.

His lawyers went into great detail into the circumstances surrounding this alleged incident.

They pulled up text messages that showed their client had attended a “talent night” event for his company the night before.

The messages were between the accused and a client at the time, agreeing to meet at the event.

The defence showed photos of the talent night, retrieved from the accused’s phone.

The man said he did not sleep well that night because of the event, and went to work the next day and left the office only at 8.43pm because he had to finish work for this client.

According to text messages he exchanged with his wife, he was supposed to bake cookies with his daughter at her request.

The man sent an emoji to his wife when saying his daughter still wanted to bake cookies, describing the emoji as portraying “something like, shag, still have to do it”.

He said he did not end up baking cookies with his daughter even after he returned home, as he had to troubleshoot the problem for the client, completing it only past midnight.

His daughter had testified that they had baked cookies together that night.

THE ALLEGED SELF-HARM AND THE SEX TOY

On Sep 6, 2019, the accused and his wife were called to an urgent parent-teacher conference in his daughter’s school.

The counsellor brought their daughter in, and asked her to share why she had self-harmed and what was bothering her, testified the accused.

“She shared that there was unfair treatment between herself and her brother. She shared that she doesn’t like to go to Tanah Merah, she also shared about this childhood best friend that she wants to go there and we don’t allow her to go,” he said.

“And there’s one part she shared that we don’t care about her, because we didn’t push her for academics or give her homework.”

The man said his wife was very angry and said nothing, so he did.

“After she shared her views of things, I addressed them one at a time,” said the accused. “I explained to her the reason behind this unfair treatment – because she is my first kid, so it’s the first time being a parent, I’m not sure what’s the right thing to do.”

He said he initially thought caning was the best thing to discipline his daughter, but changed this approach because it did not seem to work for her. Therefore, he and his wife did not cane their son that much.

“As for Tanah Merah, we explained that there’s not much choice, because we have to send them to Tanah Merah because the weekends are for us to work as well,” he said.

He explained that he did not want his daughter to stay overnight with her childhood best friend, as the other set of parents smoked and drank at home, and he did not feel this was a good environment for his daughter.

“The last part, the part she feels we don’t love her or don’t care about her anymore, this part I explained to her that (in) Primary 5, we tried to push you for academics, but you felt there was too much pressure, so Primary 6 we changed, we didn’t give her too much homework, but yet she feels we don’t care about her,” said the accused.

He said that after his response, his daughter’s teacher told her that “actually your parents love you” and the girl cried.

After the meeting, the accused said he swept the whole house for sharp objects and found a sex toy near his daughter’s pillow.

He told the court that he had bought the toy online in August 2019. He did not say who he bought it for or why he bought it.

His daughter has accused him of using it on her, an allegation he denied.

He said he questioned his daughter on why the toy was located near her pillow.

“I asked her why was this there, and do you know what this is, you shouldn’t be touching this, can you please put it back to where you take it from,” he said.

Mr Tiwary asked him why his DNA was found on the toy.

“I was curious once, so I actually tried it,” he answered.

He said he first knew in May 2019 that his daughter was self-harming.

His wife told him that their children had argued and she had intervened. But their daughter was “showing her attitude”, so she told the girl to calm down, but she could not, so his wife punished the girl.

“(My wife) told me she suspected (our daughter) might be harming herself, so I went to check on her,” said the man.

He said he returned home and saw his wife on the bed and his daughter standing against the wall.

His wife asked his daughter to show him her leg, and he said he was shocked, as there were cuts and scratches on it.

“I told (my daughter), can you just talk to your mother, anything you can talk it out. After that, I left the room,” he said.

He said his wife had told him that she had also cut herself before.

“She shared with me that it’s just a phase, they vent their anger, so it’s nothing to be too concerned about,” said the accused.

He said he told his wife to try to spend more time with their daughter and bond with her.

He then tried to talk to his daughter and asked why she had cut herself. The defence played a video clip of the interaction, in which the girl was smiling.

“She said, it’s because her brother kept wanting to touch her presents that were given by her friends,” said the accused.

He said towards the end, his daughter appeared to be better, “so it’s not something that was concerning, that was my opinion”.

He said he knew his daughter had schoolmates who were engaging in self-harm.

After the parent-teacher conference, he said he and his wife tried to change their routines to spend more time with their children, cutting down on work.

They also confiscated their daughter’s phone as they felt her friends might be a bad influence on her.

He said he was considering whether to engage a private counsellor for his daughter or let her see the school counsellor, but did not manage to make this decision as he was arrested before he could do so.

The trial continues.

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