Analysis of 1,076 cases of sexual assault.
ABSTRACT Rates of sexual assault are increasing, and evidence exists that its demographics and characteristics are changing. The purpose of our study was to describe victim, assailant, assault, and treatment characteristics for sexual assault victims and to provide descriptive data on the evidentiary examination.
Prospective data were collected on all sexual assault victims presenting to an urban Level I trauma center from January 1992 to December 1995 for treatment and evidentiary examination. Data from crime laboratory records were retrospectively reviewed.
One thousand one hundred twelve patients presented after a sexual assault. A total of 1,076 (97%) patients consented to the medical and evidentiary examination and were enrolled in the study. Age ranged from 1 to 85 years (mean, 25 years; median, 23 years), with 96% (1,036/1,076) female and 4% (41/1,076) male victims. The number of assailants was greater than 1 in 20% (208/1,044) of cases, and the assailant was a stranger only 39% (409/1,094) of the time. Force was used in 80% (817/1,027) of reported assaults, and in 27% (275/1,014) of cases a weapon was present. Vaginal intercourse was involved in 83% (851/1,023) of female victims. Oral assault was involved in 25% (271/1,053) of all cases, and anal penetration was involved in 17% (178/1,058) of all cases. Overall, general body trauma was seen 67% (621/927) of the time, and genital trauma occurred in 53% (388/736) of cases. Twenty percent (147/1,712) of patients had no trauma noted on examination. Sperm were noted on the emergency department wet mount in only 13% (93/716) of the victims, and of the 612 cases with both ED sperm data and crime laboratory semen data available, evidence of sperm and semen were found 48% (296/612) of the time by either.
Health care professionals should be aware that general body trauma is common, that the assailant is often someone known to the victim, and that evidence of semen is commonly found by the crime laboratory even when it is not found in the ED analysis of a wet mount.
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ABSTRACT: Current histological investigation of vaginal swabs after alleged sexual assault includes the scoring of spermatozoa (0, + to ++++) and the recording of visible tails. It is a method that is universally employed. Despite this method being used for 40 years, there has never been a study investigating its suitability for forensic science. Here, we investigate the reproducibility and subjectivity of sperm scoring among different investigators. Dilutions of seminal fluid were randomly distributed onto 20 slides, stained with haematoxylin/eosin and assessed by 37 investigators, over two years. Slides were assessed for levels of spermatozoa and the presence of tails. Each slide was scored by a minimum of 25 investigators. On no slide was there a consensus between all scores. Standard deviation remained below 1, but relative standard deviation (RSD) ranged from 6–104% in a positive correlation as the average score decreased. Spermatozoa were not observed 56 times (9.6%) and 27 investigators (73%) did not observe spermatozoa on at least one slide. Spermatozoa with tails were observed on every slide by at least 10 examiners, but as the average score of the slide decreased, so did the observation of tails. The current sperm scoring method is highly subjective with a particularly high % RSD in slides with low overall sperm counts. Moreover, the recording of tails does not add value to the current technique of sperm scoring. Further research might improve the objectivity of sperm scoring and the reliability of recording of tails.Forensic Science International 04/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.forsciint.2015.03.014 · 2.12 Impact Factor
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