SINGAPORE – A pair of siblings who were sexually abused by their mother's boyfriend kept silent about the assaults for more than a decade, even after the man moved out of their flat.
The first victim was between seven and nine years old when the man tried to rape her, while her older brother was 11 years old when the man carried out sex acts on the boy.
The abuse came to light by chance, when the son mentioned the sexual abuse in text messages to his mother after she complained to him about his sister.
The accused, who is now 49 years old, was sentenced to 18 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane in June 2022, after he was found guilty on eight charges for various sexual offences committed against two young victims between 2000 and 2005.
On Monday, he appealed against his conviction, but the appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
The accused, who was between 26 and 32 years old at the time of the offences, cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the identity of the siblings, who are now in their 30s.
The siblings' mother, a widow, started dating the man in 1998 and later introduced him to her two children. The siblings called him "Papa" and he moved in to live with them.
The siblings' mother held various jobs and was often at work, while the man helped her to care for her children.
In 2006, the couple broke up over unrelated matters and he moved out of their flat.
On Dec 12, 2016, following a dispute between the mother and her daughter, the son sent text messages to his mother, revealing to her for the first time that the accused had abused them when they were young.
One message said the man "touched us and made us do weird things".
The son also wrote: "Then, whenever you're around, he pretends (it's) nothing. And we didn't tell you, because we knew how hard you work."
Following this revelation, the mother told the children to report the matter to the police, and the siblings did so the next day.
The accused admitted to three of the 11 charges brought against him: one for asking the girl to perform acts depicted in pornographic images they viewed together and two for performing a sexual act on the boy on two occasions.
He contested one charge of attempted rape and four charges of molestation committed against the daughter when she was between seven and 13 years old.
He also contested two charges of unnatural sex and one charge of molestation committed against the boy when he was between 11 and 13 years old.
The man claimed that the victims concocted the alleged incidents, noting that the siblings did not tell anyone about the alleged assaults for more than a decade.
The sister testified that she did not tell anyone about the abuse as she did not think her mother would believe her or do anything about it, and also because she felt ashamed.
The brother testified that he did not tell his mother as he felt that she was happy with the man, and he wanted to preserve her happiness.
In April 2022, Justice Tan Siong Thye convicted the accused of all eight charges, concluding that the siblings were unusually convincing witnesses and that the delay in reporting did not undermine their credibility.
In contrast, the judge found the accused's evidence unreliable. In particular, the accused was evasive and inconsistent when he was asked what he was apologising for in his 2010 Facebook message to the sister.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.