Background: Over the past years medical centres specifically addressed in gender-based violence have developed protocols for the collections of evidence useful in the courtroom, including accurate documentation of physical and psychological states of the victim and collection of samples. Previous studies showed an association between documented physical trauma and conviction but unfortunately, few studies in the recent literature analysed the factors that influence the legal outcome and final judgement. The present study focused on the elements that appeared of significance in the legal outcome, including medico-legal evaluation, source of the crime report and circumstance of the assault. Methods: It was conducted a retrospective analysis of all the judgments issued by the Public Prosecutor's Office at a Court of a Metropolitan Italian city regarding sexual and domestic violence, from January 1st 2011 to 31st December 31st 2015. Examination regarded the demographic information of the victim and of the defendant, information on the crime, the circumstances of the aggression and medical information retrieved. Sentences were subsequently divided into two categories based on the legal outcome (conviction vs acquittal) and the different characteristics of the two sub-populations were compared to verify if there were variables significantly associated to the judge's final judgment. Results: Over the 5 years taken into consideration, there have been 1342 verdicts regarding crimes of sexual violence (374 cases) and regarding abuses against family members or cohabitants (875): other 93 cases regarded both sexual violence and abuse. 66.3% ended in conviction of the offender and 33.7% in acquittal of the accused. Cases of conviction were more frequent when they involved: use of a weapon by the assailant, as well as if the assailant had a criminal record and had a history of drug abuse or other addictions; duration of proceeding less 22 months and a civil party involved; presence of clinical documentation together with other deposition in addition to victim's deposition; also frequent episodes of violence and application of precautionary measures were associated to conviction. Conclusions: Many factors seem able to influence the judge's judgment, although clearly each case must be singularly evaluated. The mere presence of medical documentation, without the support of other sources of evidence, such as the victim's statement or further declarations, however, is almost always not definitive for the verdict. Despite so, in cases where there are multiple sources of evidence, clinical documentation can provide useful elements and can give clues on the consistency between the history told and injuries observed.

Sexual assault and abuse committed against family members: An analysis of 1342 legal outcomes and their motivations / A. Blandino, L. Maggioni, F. Chiaffarino, F. Parazzini, D. Capano, E. Florio, M. Margherita, G. Bertelle, L. Franceschetti, A. Amadasi, G. Vignali, B. Ciprandi, G. Crudele, V. Merelli, F. Collini, E. Muccino, P. Nicolò, G. Barbara, A. Kustermann, C. Cattaneo, A. Gentilomo. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - 16:6(2021 Jun 29), pp. e0253980.1-e0253980.15. [10.1371/journal.pone.0253980]

Sexual assault and abuse committed against family members: An analysis of 1342 legal outcomes and their motivations

Blandino A;Maggioni L;Parazzini F;Florio EM;Margherita M;Bertelle GM;Franceschetti L;Amadasi A;Vignali G;Ciprandi B;Crudele GDL;Merelli VG;Collini F;Muccino EA;Barbara G;Cattaneo C;Gentilomo A.
2021-06-29

Abstract

Background: Over the past years medical centres specifically addressed in gender-based violence have developed protocols for the collections of evidence useful in the courtroom, including accurate documentation of physical and psychological states of the victim and collection of samples. Previous studies showed an association between documented physical trauma and conviction but unfortunately, few studies in the recent literature analysed the factors that influence the legal outcome and final judgement. The present study focused on the elements that appeared of significance in the legal outcome, including medico-legal evaluation, source of the crime report and circumstance of the assault. Methods: It was conducted a retrospective analysis of all the judgments issued by the Public Prosecutor's Office at a Court of a Metropolitan Italian city regarding sexual and domestic violence, from January 1st 2011 to 31st December 31st 2015. Examination regarded the demographic information of the victim and of the defendant, information on the crime, the circumstances of the aggression and medical information retrieved. Sentences were subsequently divided into two categories based on the legal outcome (conviction vs acquittal) and the different characteristics of the two sub-populations were compared to verify if there were variables significantly associated to the judge's final judgment. Results: Over the 5 years taken into consideration, there have been 1342 verdicts regarding crimes of sexual violence (374 cases) and regarding abuses against family members or cohabitants (875): other 93 cases regarded both sexual violence and abuse. 66.3% ended in conviction of the offender and 33.7% in acquittal of the accused. Cases of conviction were more frequent when they involved: use of a weapon by the assailant, as well as if the assailant had a criminal record and had a history of drug abuse or other addictions; duration of proceeding less 22 months and a civil party involved; presence of clinical documentation together with other deposition in addition to victim's deposition; also frequent episodes of violence and application of precautionary measures were associated to conviction. Conclusions: Many factors seem able to influence the judge's judgment, although clearly each case must be singularly evaluated. The mere presence of medical documentation, without the support of other sources of evidence, such as the victim's statement or further declarations, however, is almost always not definitive for the verdict. Despite so, in cases where there are multiple sources of evidence, clinical documentation can provide useful elements and can give clues on the consistency between the history told and injuries observed.
sexual assault, legal outcome, forensic examination
Settore MED/43 - Medicina Legale
PLOS ONE
Article (author)
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
journal.pone.0253980.pdf

accesso aperto

517.73 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri
Pubblicazioni consigliate

Caricamento pubblicazioni consigliate

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/863867
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 0
  • Scopus 2
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 2
social impact