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Medical Findings and Legal Outcomes in Sexually Abused Children

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A previous study published in 2000 on a small group of children concluded that the medical examination in cases of sexual child abuse seldom provided legal proof of sexual abuse [J Forensic Sci 45(2000):115–7]. The present consecutive study included children referred to the police for a forensic medical examination. A colposcope was used to evaluate the anogenital findings which were classified as normal, nonspecific, and abnormal. Four hundred and eighty-two children were included. Abnormal anogenital findings were found in 38% of the girls and 20% of the boys, but there was no relation between abnormal anogenital findings and the two legal outcomes: “appearing in court” and “being convicted.” However, the age of the child turned out to be a more important factor in relation to legal outcome than the physical findings. The results of this study suggest that the child’s statement and not the physical findings were important for legal outcome.

Keywords: child sexual abuse; clinical forensic medicine; forensic epidemiology; forensic science; legal outcome; medical findings; video colposcope

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: The Department of Forensic Medicine, Aarhus University, Brendstrupgaardsvej 100, DK-8200 Aarhus N, Denmark. 2: The Department of Epidemiology, The Institute of Public Health, Aarhus University, Vennelyst Boulevard 6, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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