Medical Findings and Legal Outcomes in Sexually Abused Children*


  • *

    This work was presented at the 57th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Science, February 21–26, 2005, in New Orleans, LA, and the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Science, February 19–24, 2007, in San Antonio, TX.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Annie Vesterby Charles, M.D., D.M.Sc.
The Department of Forensic Medicine
Aarhus University
Brendstrupgaardsvej 100
DK-8200 Aarhus N


Abstract:  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.