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Rape, Sexual Abuse Of A Child Usually "He Said-She Said" Cases

The vast majority of rape and sexual abuse of a child cases involve little to no physical evidence--no DNA, no injuries, no other tell-tell signs of abuse.   I can't tell you how many times a client has asked me, "you mean they can charge me with rape and there is no evidence of rape?"   Unfortunately, the answer is "yes."  

The prosecutor will put the complainant on the stand to testify about what happened.  His or her testimony alone is enough to secure a conviction for rape of sexual abuse of a child.  The vast majority of the time, a rape examination will be given to the alleged victim.  The portion of the five-page form where the examiner is to mark up the body and genital area where the complainant says s/he was injured, is "blank."  No bruising, scrapes, red marks.   Nothing.

At trial, the prosecution will put the rape examiner on the stand to testify that a lack of injuries does not indicate that no rape or sexual assault occurred.  This becomes a challenge for the defense...damned if there are and damned if there aren't injuries.  Either way, the rape examiner will state that what was found is consistent with sexual assault.

As a result, these cases usually require hiring a rape examination expert as well.  However, most will agree with the state's expert--that lack of injuries does not mean lack of assault.  I often hire a rape examination expert to help me cross-examine the state's expert even if I do not put my own expert on the stand to testify.  

The good news from a defense perspective is that jurors are aware of all of the tools that can be used by law enforcement to investigate a case--DNA, luminol, etc.--and if law enforcement doesn't take the time to collect bedsheets, DNA, comb for pubic hairs and the like, the jurors get upset.  They've all seen CSI and similar shows and expect a thorough investigation.

As a result, I attempt to turn "he said-she said" cases into "not guilty" verdicts for my client.  I remind jurors that the burden of proof is very high in a criminal case.  Without any physical evidence of a rape or other sexual assualt, the only just verdict is a "not guilty" one.

If you have a sex case in Salt Lake City, Layton, Logan, Ogden, Provo, Vernal or anywhere in the State of Utah, give me a call.  I travel to all areas of the state.

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