A single mother in Henan is hoping public pressure will force a local court to revise upward the sentence imposed on the man it convicted of molesting her two-year-old daughter.
The case, and the mother’s appeal to the public for help, has inflamed passions on the mainland where, to many people, the law favours those with money, power and political influence.
The man found guilty of molesting the child is the husband of the headmistress of the kindergarten attended by the toddler. The mother of the victim is a single mother who quit her job as her daughter recovers from the year-long ordeal.
The mother says a medical examination determined that the girl was sexually abused, to the extent she suffered internal injuries, and posted what appeared to be a detailed account of the check-up at the Second People’s Hospital online.
Psychological and emotional testing conducted at the Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Centre concluded the toddler’s recovery would require therapeutic counselling, said the mother, who also posted the records online, taking care to redact the name of her daughter.
The mother, who lives in Pingdingshan, told the South China Morning Post on Friday that the four and a half-year sentence handed down by the municipal court was “too light” and did not “go far enough” to punish such a heinous act.
“It’s not just a molestation,” said the mother, 40, who goes by the pseudonym “Strawberry mum” to protect her and her daughter’s identity. “It’s rape.”
My girl suffered serious physical and mental damage,” she added.
The court found the defendant, the husband of a kindergarten headmaster, guilty of molesting a minor on February 13.
The mother’s appeal to the public, made in an online post on her microblog account on Thursday, received a flood of attention. Her original message was forwarded more than 31,000 times by that afternoon, and more than 4,000 people had responded with written comments, most of which expressed disgust with the perpetrator and sympathy for the mother and daughter.
A number of comments lambasted the country’s criminal justice system, which several writers maintained had failed to protect the nation’s children.
“The assailant should be given the death penality, and his wife, a kindergarten headmistress, should be punished too,” wrote one online commentator.
A legal aid lawyer was appointed by the local government to provide counsel to the girl’s family.
The next phase of the trial, during which exculpatory or aggravating evidence may be presented in an effort to revise the original sentence – will begin on Monday, said Li Yingchun, the legal air lawyer.
Li indicated that both the mother and the defendant were appealing the sentence.
“It’s hard to say whether the sentence is too light or hard because the maximum charge of molesting [a minor] on the mainland is five years,” Li told the Post.
The mother may also pursue a civil suit against the defendant.
“I am helpless now as I quit my job to take care of [my daughter] around the clock,” said the woman, noting the girl is too scared to be left alone since the attack.
“The court did not order the man to pay me one fen (10 cents) in compensation for my girl’s medical treatment.”
The mother claims the child, whose nickname is “little strawberry”, told her that she had been assaulted by the man for more than a year, and that the attacks began as soon as she entered the school. The mother said her daughter explained in great detail the nature of the sexual molestation, which she alleged included penetration of her daughter.
Injuries consistent with the rape of a child were found on the girl after her mother took her to a local hospital to find out what was causing the child to experience urinary incontinence.
Wang Quanping, a Jiangmen-based lawyer in Guangdong, said the defendant could be sentenced to 10 years in jail if certain aggravating circumstances could be proven.
The victim and her mother may also seek a financial settlement through civil proceedings, he added.