‘I feel caught in between’: Wife of man on trial for molesting daughter testifies about child's lies, bad behaviour
- A 35-year-old Singaporean is accused of molesting his daughter when she was 12
- His wife told the court in his defence about their child’s various disciplinary issues and lies
- The girl testified earlier that she had told her grandmother about the alleged molestations but the grandmother said that she did not
- The mother said she still does not know if it is her husband or her daughter who is telling the truth
- The trial continues in July
SINGAPORE — When she and her husband confronted their “rebellious” daughter about stealing from them, returning home late from school and wearing inappropriate attire, the 12-year-old would lie and refuse to apologise for her actions.
Then, one evening in January 2020, she did not return home past 10pm. Her parents soon realised that she had gone to the police station to report that her father had molested her several times.
These details emerged when the girl’s mother took the stand on Monday (June 20) as a defence witness in her husband’s trial at the State Courts.
The Singaporean father, 35, is contesting a single charge of molesting the girl between July and November 2018 when she was about 12 years old.
He cannot be named due to a court order to protect her identity.
The technician is accused of pulling up her shirt and performing a sex act while she was wearing a virtual reality headset in his bedroom.
He faces four other charges of molesting her between July 2018 and December 2020. These charges have been stood down for the purposes of the trial.
Last week, he took the stand and testified about having to discipline her often, which was one of the reasons why he thought she made the allegations against him. He denies committing any of the offences.
The girl, who is now 15, testified as a prosecution witness behind closed doors when the trial began in January. Members of the public and media were not allowed to attend.
SHOWED 'NO EMOTION' WHEN SCOLDED
On Monday, the girl’s mother corroborated her husband’s account of their daughter’s disciplinary problems.
Under questioning by the accused’s lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy, the mother said that from around 2017 to 2018, they spent more time confronting their daughter about her behaviour.
“Basically, (he) was disciplining her more due to her actions. I think she was in the growing process when she met with bad company and tended to lie or didn’t come home straight after school, and didn’t ask permission or acknowledge that she was going home late. On some occasions, we caught her stealing,” she testified.
Tearing up, she said that she would then confront her husband for what she thought were heavy-handed punishments, including slapping or beating the girl at times, as well as caning her once and punching her in the abdomen.
When confronted, her husband would stay silent or ask her to discipline the girl instead, she added.
When Mr Ganapathy asked why there was a need to discipline their daughter, she responded: “Because she’s being rebellious to the extent that when we caught her doing something wrong, she doesn’t want to own up or even apologise.”
As for how the girl would react, the woman said that the daughter would cry sometimes but usually keep quiet.
“Most of the time… when I scold (her), she will give that kind of 'death stare', like no emotion, like staring back as though she’s holding on to grudges. But the thing is, I don’t know if she is.”
The teenager's behaviour persists till today and she has not apologised whenever she was caught, the mother said.
STOLE S$300 FROM GRANDMOTHER
The woman also gave some examples of her daughter’s lies. On one occasion, the girl stole S$300 from her grandmother but denied doing it.
Her mother then called her friends and found out that she had been spending money on them, but the daughter then said that she found the cash along a pathway.
The mother went to her primary school where the discipline master took her to the bookshop. There, the cashier said that he remembered the girl buying things with a S$50 note.
At home, the girl also lied about eating some food that her mother had warned her not to touch. She then “sort of dared” her mother to check a closed-circuit television camera installed in the house.
The woman testified: “I saw her taking the spoon and trying the food. I asked, 'Why did you lie? I’m not scolding you, there’s nothing for you to lie about.'
"Before I showed her the video, she still said, 'It was not me'. When I showed her the video, she kept quiet because there was proof already."
Upon moving to secondary school, the girl also lied about smoking and vaping despite being caught with cigarettes or lighters in her bag or skirt pockets, the woman told the court.
'DID YOU DO IT?'
Mr Ganapathy then took the woman through the day when her husband was arrested on Jan 15, 2020.
She said that her husband had disciplined their daughter about her attire being “too short or revealing” the day before.
When the girl did not return home around 7pm, the mother tried calling a teacher in charge of the school's basketball co-curricular activity because her daughter was a participant. The teacher did not respond.
The mother searched in various places including their previous home but could not find her. At 10pm, she decided to make a police report.
They then saw three police officers going to their flat. Her husband was arrested shortly after and taken to the police station.
The woman testified that their daughter’s friend had told them that same evening about the girl confiding about her father touching her inappropriately.
She said of an exchange with her husband: “I asked him, 'Did you do it?' He said he did not. He looked shocked but somehow innocent — I don’t know, I myself have no answer till today. So I kept punching him and asking the same question over and over again. He said, ‘I did not, why would I do such a thing?’”
When Mr Ganapathy asked what she would do if her daughter had told her about the alleged molestations before going to the police, she replied: “I would have asked for a divorce before reporting it to the police.”
The woman also said that contrary to the girl's testimony, the girl never told her grandmother about being molested. The grandmother first revealed this during her testimony last week.
The girl also told a school counsellor that her grandmother had told her mother about the allegation and the mother apparently ignored the girl “for a few days”.
The girl’s mother disagreed, saying that she would never ignore her children. She had also immediately confronted her husband upon first learning of the allegation on Jan 15, 2020.
When Mr Ganapathy asked if she would have blamed him for his alleged actions, she said: “If he did it, he’s wrong means he’s wrong. If (our daughter) lied, she’s wrong means she’s wrong."
She later added, her voice shaking: “Honestly, till the day I die, I will never know the truth unless (my husband) tells me or (our daughter) comes to say, 'I lied'… Only God knows what really happened.
“That’s why I feel caught in between. He’s my husband, she’s my daughter.”
The trial continues next month with Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Siaw cross-examining the mother.
Those convicted of molesting a minor under 14 can be jailed for up to five years, fined, caned, or punished with any combination of the three.