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Judicial CP - February 1998

Straits Times, Singapore, 14 February 1998

Father cleared of rape, but is jailed for molest

By Tan Ooi Boon

A LABOURER was acquitted yesterday of raping his daughter when she was 10 years old because the High Court was not convinced that he had sex with the girl.

But the man, 45, did not go free. He was jailed a total of 16 months for molesting his daughter three times in 1994 in their Paya Lebar flat.

Judicial Commissioner Choo Han Teck also sentenced the man to nine strokes of the cane after converting the original rape charges to molest charges.

The prosecution said on Wednesday, when the trial began, that the man had raped his daughter at least twice and had molested her once.

The man's name cannot be revealed, in order to protect the identity of the victim, now 13 years old.

In delivering his verdict yesterday, JC Choo said it was unsafe to rely solely on the testimony of the girl, whom he found to be immature and not very articulate.

He added that he was also "left in doubt" by what she had said.

She told the court that her father had raped her twice, but had never revealed this to anyone before the trial.

And during her earlier interview with a child psychiatrist, she said she was raped only once.

JC Choo added that although the girl had told the psychiatrist there was "a hint of nakedness" involving her father, such allegation was far from enough to support a rape charge.

He added that the medical evidence -- old hymenal tears in the girl's vagina -- was not conclusive because the doctor could not confirm that the tears had resulted from sexual intercourse.

The prosecution could not also pinpoint exactly when the alleged rape or rapes supposedly took place, he said.

As the case was not fully proven, the judge said that the accused must be given the benefit of the doubt.

But JC Choo said he was convinced that the accused had molested his daughter.

This was because since 1993, the girl had been consistent in complaining that her father had "touched her all over her body".

The accused stared blankly from the dock when he heard the verdict through an interpreter.

He could have been jailed two years for each of the three molest charges.

His wife, 46, told The Straits Times after the hearing that she was not convinced that her husband had molested their daughter.

"I did not see it with my own eyes," she said.

The couple have eight children, including one from the wife's previous marriage. She said only her eldest son, 21, was still staying with her.

This was because three of her children, including her 13-year-old daughter, had been placed in a children's home.

She said she had lost contact with her eldest daughter, 19, ever since she ran away from home last year. Two of her three other children had died and one was given away.

She said: "I have no plans now. I will probably look for a job while I wait for my husband to return from jail."

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