Trashigang dzongkhag court on September 28 sentenced an 83-year-old man from Melphey in Trashigang to three years and one month in prison for child molestation.

The defendant, Rinchen, is the paternal great-grandfather of the two 13-year-old girls.

Rinchen was charged for child molestation after the alleged rape of the 13-year-old girl was ruled out following forensic results from the national referral hospital.

The girl, in her statement to court, stated that the defendant had sexually exploited her on several occasions.She also shared the same statement to the school administration, police and the officials of National Commission of Women and Children (NCWC).

According to the judgment, her stepsister, who is also 13 years old, submitted before the court that the defendant has been sexually abusing them for a long time.

She submitted that when the defendant tried to put his hands on her, she responded with a knife to defend.

She also mentioned that a second stepsister, who is seven years old was once seen crying and stripped naked by the great-grandfather.

The judgment states that although the defendant denied all the accusations, based on the circumstantial evidence from the girl and her stepsister, the court found Rinchen guilty of violating section 203 of the Penal Code of Bhutan.

The section states; “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of child molestation if the defendant molests a child.”

The crime is graded a fourth-degree offence and is a non-compoundable sentence.

It was also learnt that the defendant showed aggressive behaviour during the cross-examination process at the court and threatened the girls for staying in his property.

The court ordered Rinchen to pay a sum of Nu 22,500 based on the daily minimum wage rate to the victim for the physical and mental torture she underwent.

It was learnt that the defendant started abusing the girl since 2014 when she was nine years. While she has been taken by a shelter home in Thimphu, the two stepsisters are still in Trashigang.

Meanwhile, according to sources, both the parents are alcoholic and the family is dependent on the great-grandfather since he had the house and few plots in the area.

Sources said the parents were aware of the great grandfather’s behaviour towards the children but failed to report to the authorities.

The issue was first reported by the school administration when the girl refused to go home after school following the abuse.

The school counsellor with the peer helper club learnt about the issue first from the girl.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang