Sexual Assault

Worthwhile Read: The Role of Forensic Medical Evidence in Sexual Assault Prosecution

I tweeted this last week, but I’m not certain it was seen as widely as I think it should be so I’m devoting an entire post to this recent report out of Australia: The Role of Forensic Medical Evidence in the Prosecution of Adult Sexual Assault. I encourage you to read it–much of the discussion that’s been happening on this site and elsewhere is also evident in this publication, which I think is a must-read for any sexual assault clinicians. The analysis is extensive, but this statement from the conclusion is illustrative for sure:

In short, limitations exist as to what, and how much, forensic evidence can actually reveal about a sexual assault. The evidence to date suggests a mismatch between expectations that forensic medical evidence will have an impact on legal outcomes compared to the reality of legally proving sexual assault. This is particularly so within a trial context where it is consent that is most often at issue, rather than the identity of the suspect or whether sexual activity had occurred. 

Although legal systems differ, some of the issues, such as the issue of consent as a defense, are not unique to any one country. This is a worthwhile read, regardless of where you practice.

Download the full PDF here.