Man sentenced to 15 years for sexual assault of niece

High Court. (Sun Photo)

The High Court has sentenced a man to 15 years in prison for the repeated sexual assault of his teenage niece, overturning a previous acquittal issued by a magistrate court.

The case was originally filed with a magistrate court in an island. The name of the island has not been disclosed to protect the identity of the victim.

However, the court acquitted him of the charge of sexual assault of a minor he holds a position of authority over on November 28, 2019.

The man was accused of repeatedly assaulting his niece in 2015, when she was 15 years old.

The case came to light on August 28, 2015, when the victim ran away from her home, after accusing her parents of physical abuse.

The Family and Child Protection Department initially placed her under the custody of a maternal relative. However, the girl said that she didn’t wish to be placed with her family on the maternal side, and that she had suffered sexual abuse in their hands.

Someone who heard her make the allegation informed her father.

Her parents reported the case to the police three months later, after discussing it with her after she returned home.

The victim had lived with her parents and three younger siblings in a one-room apartment in Male’. They had family on her maternal side stay with them during frequent trips to Male’. She and her mother and siblings would sleep in the bedroom, while her father and male relatives would sleep in the living room.

She was assaulted by her mother’s younger brother, who stayed with him to seek treatment for an injury to one of his toes.

She testified that she had woken up after dozing off in the living room in August 2015, to find her uncle exposing himself. He asked her to touch him. The rest of the testimony was redacted.

The state appealed the acquittal with the High Court on January 29, 2020.

The court on Wednesday overturned the original ruling and sentenced the man to 15 years in prison for the crime.