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Med Sci Law. 2007 Oct;47(4):315-24.

Analysis of 756 cases of sexual assault in Tours (France): medico-legal findings and judicial outcomes.

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  • 1Service de Médecine Légale, Hôpital Trousseau, CHRU Tours, 37 044 Tours 9, France.


We describe the medico-legal findings in a population of sexual assault cases assessed in an urban French referral centre, analyse the subsequent legal dispositions in each case and determine whether the characteristics of the assault and the medico-legal findings were associated with conviction of the assailant. We performed a retrospective study of medicolegal reports in all the sexual assault cases reported in Tours (France) during a seven-year period. We defined two groups of victims: children under 15 years old and victims aged 15 years or more. Legal outcomes were obtained from courtroom proceedings. The relationship between the outcomes and the circumstances of the case was analyzed by logistic regression. We enrolled a total of 756 cases during the study period. The mean age of the study population was 16.5 years and 68.3% of the cases involved children under 15 years old. In 57% of these cases, the assailant was a family member. 31.7% of all the victims were aged 15 years or more. The assailant was an acquaintance of the victim in 62.2% of the cases. Drug-facilitated assault was suspected in 2.9% of the cases. In 46.2% of the cases, formal criminal charges were not filed due to insufficient evidence; 36.3% of the assailants were convicted. Examination at the request of the police authorities and previous acquaintance of the assailant by the victim were significantly associated with conviction. Allegations of penetration, the presence of general body trauma and the presence of genital trauma were not necessarily associated with conviction. Medical examiners need to be circumspect when they record non-medical variables. Physical evidence of trauma was neither predictive nor essential for conviction. Successful prosecution depends on the quality of the testimony provided by the victim.

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