Woman endured stepfather’s sexual abuse for over 20 years
Molested when she was just seven, she kept silent through the years out of fear no one would believe her
She called him papa, but for much of her childhood and adult life, he was more tormentor than father to her as he turned her life into a nightmare.
He moved into the family flat in 1990 when she was just three years old, about a year after her biological father died.
When she was seven, he began sexually abusing her, a crime that would last for more than 20 years as she kept silent out of fear until 2017 when she finally reported him to the police.
On Monday, the bus driver, now 66, pleaded guilty to five counts of molestation after he changed his mind about going to trial. Another seven counts of molestation and two charges under the Films Act were taken into consideration.
He cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim.
In her submissions to District Judge Jasvender Kaur yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana described how the woman had wrestled with feelings of anguish while enduring the abuse alone because she was unsure who to turn to for help and was afraid of burdening her mother.
"These incidents will be in me forever," said the woman in a victim impact statement.
"I am just waiting for me to die so I can escape from the past and restart my life, forgetting all those dirty memories."
Noting that the facts of the case were unprecedented, DPP Boppana called for the maximum jail sentence of 10 years, plus another 71/2 years in lieu of caning. The man cannot be caned as he is above 50.
"This is the worst case of sexual abuse involving acts of outrage of modesty to appear before the courts to date, both by virtue of the duration of offending and the nature of the offending acts," she added.
The man rented a room with the victim's family in 1990 before marrying her mother in 1999.
The victim and her younger brother had their own bedrooms, and her mother often slept in the latter's room on the other side of the flat. The master bedroom was next to hers so the man was able to enter her room without being seen.
The five offences he was convicted of included an incident in 1999 when she was in Primary 6 and needed help inserting a suppository for constipation.
As her mother was not around, she asked the man, who took the opportunity to molest her and stripping her naked.
In a 2003 incident, the man lay on top of her and performed a grinding motion. When he exposed himself, she feared he was going to rape her and pushed him away, causing him to fall and sprain his shoulder.
But the frequent abuse continued and in 2013, she confided in her younger brother, who suggested she lock her room door.
The man still got in as the lock was spoilt. When the lock was replaced in end-2016, the abuse stopped for a while.
On Feb 21, 2017, the man used a spare key to enter her room when they were alone in the flat. He molested her for 40 minutes, during which she texted her brother to tell him she was scared and wanted to die.
The man stopped only after her friend, whom she also texted, called her. She spent the night in her friend's place and made a police report two days later.
A psychiatric report found she had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
DPP Boppana said the victim feared no one would believe her or her mother would blame her, and thought her only way out was suicide or buying her own flat when she turned 35.
She had persistent nightmares, waking up in fear that her stepfather was touching her, and still shuns relationships with other men.
"The victim will never be able to regain her lost childhood or the innocence the accused had so callously defiled, nor will she be rid of the lasting emotional and psychological harm," said DPP Boppana.
In mitigation, the man's lawyer Wee Hong Shern cited his client's commendations as a bus driver and said the offences were his only wrongdoing.
Seeking six years and 10 months' jail, he said the man had also been a victim of sexual abuse when he was younger.
Judge Kaur reserved her decision on sentencing. The case has been adjourned until Dec 1.