U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Understanding Anogenital Injury in Adult Sexual Assault Cases

NCJ Number
Jenifer Markowitz, N.D., R.N., WHNP-BC, SANE-A; Teresa Scalzo, Esq.
Date Published
October 2011
3 pages
After reviewing the research on anogenital injuries that occur in both sexual assaults and consensual sex, this paper discusses how prosecutors should use evidence of anogenital injury in sexual assault cases.
The most recent literature suggests that the rates of anogenital injury resulting from sexual assault may range from 20-53 percent. In many cases, injury will not be noted; this could either be because there was no injury in the assault or because there were no specialty evaluation techniques used, such as toluidine blue dye or magnification. A finding of no injury could also result when the examination occurs after the anogenital injury has already healed. This can occur in as little as 36-48 hours. Further complicating the significance of the presence or absence of anogenital injury in sexual assault cases is the research finding that anogenital injuries are not exclusive to non-consensual sex. In fact, the vast majority of injuries assessed during a medical-forensic examination are non-specific, meaning they could result from non-consensual sexual contact, either with or without applied physical force, or from consensual sexual contact. The inability to provide a conclusive determination of the causes of anogenital injuries, however, does not mean such findings have no place as evidence in an adult sexual assault case. Evidence such as external body injury, patient statements, and patient appearance and demeanor may assist in presenting a fuller understanding of the trauma to the victim. Such information can then bolster the significance of the anogenital injury evidence and increase the credibility of a victim's account of events associated with the assault. 6 notes