Medical evidence and expert testimony in child sexual abuse

Lori D. Frasier, Kathi L. Makoroff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Expert medical testimony in child sexual abuse cases can be critical to the outcome of a legal case. This article will review the development of the medical knowledge and clinical expertise in child sexual abuse. Since the passage of mandatory child abuse reporting laws, the forensic medical examination of a child for evidence of sexual abuse has become standard. Until recently, many myths regarding female genital anatomy existed but were based primarily on dogma and lack of empirical research. Over the post 25 years, many research studies and accumulating clinical evidence have expanded medical knowledge and debunked old myths. Physical evidence, even in cases of alleged genital or anal penetration is rare. Sexually transmitted infections are also uncommon and often require medical interpretation as to their significance in a prepubertal child. Specialized medical knowledge, training, and clinical expertise have developed in order to evaluate children presenting with allegations of sexual abuse. Such medical expertise provides invaluable service to courts. We review criteria for evaluating such expertise in light of current medical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-50
Number of pages10
JournalJuvenile and Family Court Journal
Volume57
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law

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