According to the criminal law, rape is sexual intercourse committed in a natural or perverse form with the use of violence or with the threat of its use against the victim or against other persons or using the helpless state of the victim. Sexual intercourse with a minor is punishable by law even if it was committed with her or his consent.
Forensic examination of victims and suspected sex offenders
The forensic examination of rape must be done with the utmost care and skill, as in some cases it is necessary to exclude false accusations, simulations and self-harm to achieve selfish ends.
When revealing the facts related to rape, the forensic expert needs to solve the following main issues:
- To establish that sexual intercourse or attempt to it was really committed;
- To determine what measures and means were used to suppress the will and resistance of women, the nature and extent of damage to the body;
- What direct harm sexual intercourse did (infection with a sexually transmitted disease, etc.)
Detection of sperm in the vagina is a positive fact, but it is not always necessary since this evidence can be obtained only in a limited number of cases.
In a forensic study, by the nature of the injuries of the vaginal opening, by the state of the hymen, etc., it can sometimes be established whether the penis was inserted into the vagina. In this case, the damage to children is significant.
With the examination of adult women, it is not possible to establish the exact time of sexual intercourse. The detection of bodily harm, their number and nature is crucial here. Upon examination, the woman should be completely undressed. Abrasions, scratches, bruises, and sometimes wounds can be found on the victim’s body. Most often they are found on the face of the neck, mammary glands, hips, buttocks, in the area of the external genitalia.
Rape with the use of physical force is forced sexual intercourse with the application of injured blows, grabbing the neck, tying her hands, etc. In these cases, serious bodily harm can be caused, sometimes leading to death.
When assessing this type of rape, one should take into account the relationship between the forces and the constitution of the attacker and the defender, as well as many other circumstances in which there was a struggle that caused one or another outcome. The duration of the struggle is no less important since in a long struggle, a woman, despite self-defense and resistance, can lose strength earlier than a man and stop resistance. On the other hand, long-term resistance with active use in order to self-protect body movements contribute to the success of resistance. In the process of such a struggle, the rapist can become weak before he reaches his goal, and the eruption of the semen occurs before the introduction of the penis, which is accompanied by the disappearance of sexual desire.
Forensic medicine and judicial practice indicate that an adult woman can be raped by one man only if she suffers severe physical pain, shock, or loss of consciousness as a result of physical exposure. However, similar phenomena can also occur as a result of a bruise of the body during a fall. Therefore, allegations of adult women being raped by one man using physical force should be carefully checked by the investigator and the court.
In addition to the factor of brute force, various conditions and conditions that can contribute to the commission of forced sexual intercourse play an important role in rape. This includes the surprise of the attack, the woman’s confusion, fatigue, pain and stunning when falling, fear, shame, many others. The place where the violence occurs is no less important (forest, wasteland, isolated room, attic, shed, etc.), as well as time (night and early morning hours).
Rape by two or more men is called group rape. Usually, in this case, one of the participants performs copulation, while the others use physical force (bind, hold hands and feet). In these cases, the picture of the injuries received is somewhat modified, as will be discussed below.
In each case of rape, it is necessary to record traces of violence during the examination. Abrasions, scratches, bruising and more severe damage are of great importance. They are located on the hands, hips, neck (traces of suffocation attempts in the form of characteristic lunate traces of nails), face, and mammary glands (traces of bites, suction cups, and tweaks can often be found). Bruising and abrasions can be on the cheeks, around the mouth, on the lips. On the genitals, in addition to tearing the hymen, there are abrasions, injuries of the vaginal arches, perineal tears, hair pulling out, and hemorrhages in the genital area. Often, traumatic brain injury, fractures of bones (face, limbs) are found in victims.
Rape can be accompanied by oppression or complete loss of consciousness as a result of craniocerebral trauma, a shock after a blow to the solar plexus, confusion when squeezing large vessels of the neck. All this facilitates the commission of a violent act.
The defendants are most characteristic of injuries in the form of bruises, abrasions and scratches, bites, etc. on open parts of the body (hands, neck, face). Since such damage may be minor, the accused must be completely undressed and thoroughly examined, which also allows him to establish his composition and degree of physical strength. Damage to the genitals of the accused is also characteristic. This side of the issue will be described in more detail in the corresponding section.
An examination of rape also requires investigation of the clothes of the victim and the suspect, not only because traces of sperm and blood can be found on it, but also because it can carry traces of struggle and self-defense – tears, cuts, torn buttons, etc.
Rape in a helpless state
A helpless state can be caused by various reasons associated with the special condition of the victim: fainting from pain, shock, epileptic seizure, poisoning, congenital and acquired deformities, as well as the conditions created by the criminal himself. For a full assessment, a neuropathologist and psychiatrist should be involved as necessary and familiarized with the investigation materials.
The examination of rape during artificial sleep caused by various sleeping pills, drugs and drugs is also important. There is a close question when raping a woman in a state of intoxication.
Evidence of violence
The evidence includes the establishment of a fact of former sexual intercourse. In children and virgins, such evidence is a violation of the integrity of the hymen in the form of defloration or abrasions, tears, hemorrhages, loss of the original form of hymen and contraction ring. The detection of sperm in the vagina is of great importance. With an intact pleura, sperm can be detected even on the 6th day and later. Next, the localization and nature of other mechanical injuries of the body are successively established. A thorough examination of the victim is carried out. The expert should also be able to assess the time of the incident and the compliance with the date of the incident, as well as at least presumably indicate what they could have been applied: fingers, penis, teeth or some other objects.
Essential material for a forensic report may be provided by examination of an accused or suspected person in a crime. After examining the accused, you can get an idea of his physique and physical strength, and on the basis of this solve the question of whether he could physically defeat the victim. In addition, one can detect injuries on his body received during the fight. Penile injuries in the form of abrasions, bites on the foreskin or on the head are also important. They need to be noted, described, whether they correspond to the date of the incident and what caused them.
Forensic examination of suspected and material evidence in sexual offenses
In the investigation of sexual crimes, not only the examination of the victim but also the forensic examination of the suspects are important. It should be noted that one of the main issues of interest to the investigation in this category of cases are: whether the suspect has committed natural or perverse sexual intercourse with the injured person.
Forensic examination of suspects
The criminal law and forensic literature emphasize the need for an urgent examination of rape suspects in order to detect bloodstains, sperm, hair adhering and overlays on the clothes; damage characteristic of the struggle on their body.
Spots that look like blood usually have a characteristic localization, located on clothing that covers the genitals. However, clothing damage in suspects is relatively rare. In about half of all cases, it is possible to detect injuries on the body, although it is quite rare for suspected gang rapes, for obvious reasons. Among these injuries, abrasions caused by the victim’s nails and teeth predominate. Damages are located in open areas of the body: arms, face, neck. Bites of the lips and tongue are often found on the face. The injuries of the lower extremities include the abrasions of the front surfaces of the knee joints.
Genital injuries are relatively rare. At the same time, there may be abrasions and hemorrhages on the glans of the penis and foreskin, on the body of the penis and extremely rarely tears of the frenum. It should be noted that after sexual intercourse it is often possible to detect blood, pubic hair, feces and smegma under the foreskin in a suspect. It is important that the presence of a significant amount of smegma under the foreskin indicates that the witness did not have sexual intercourse in the next few days before the examination.
There is no doubt that the conclusions and categorical judgments about former sexual intercourse can be correctly formulated only after laboratory studies.
The clothes of suspects are usually sent for examination only if there are bloodstains similar to blood and sperm on it. If blood is detected, then its group is determined, which may coincide with the blood group of the suspect and / or victim. When sperm is detected, its group is also determined.
When examining the clothes of the victims, sperm and bloodstains can be found. Determining their group affiliation allows specialists to identify their origin and judge the number of rapists (although this is a very relative indicator).
As for the material evidence, much attention should be paid to bedding, hair, cigarette butts, clothing, handkerchiefs. If the hair is found, it is necessary to find out its origin (pubis, head, arms).
Evidence of natural and perverse sexual intercourse
One of the main methods used in such situations is the detection of morphological elements of the vaginal contents in the prints from the penis and in the stains of blood and sperm on clothes using the cytochemical method. By the sex chromatin of the nuclei, morphological features and a large amount of glycogen in the cytoplasm, as well as by the monomorphic gram-positive rod microflora, it is possible to establish the sex of the cells and their origin from the woman’s vagina with good estrogenic stimulation of the body. In doubtful cases (for example, with an atrophic type of smear, when basal and parabasal cells predominate), it is necessary to examine smears from the urethral mucosa and the oral cavity of the suspect himself. Moreover, this method is highly effective for determining the very fact of sexual intercourse in men who did not specifically remove the vaginal contents.
When examining material from the penis, elements of a different nature can be detected. As already noted above, the central place is occupied by vaginal epithelial cells, confirming the very fact of sexual intercourse in this suspect.
Detection of sperm on the penis allows you to judge exclusively about ejaculation. As a rule, sperm in these cases coincides in its group affiliation with the group of the suspect. However, if vaginal mucosa cells are found in sperm stains, it is possible to state with accuracy the completed sexual intercourse.
The fact of perverse sexual intercourse is indicated by the detection of feces elements in the prints from the penis: pieces of plant fiber, starch cells, cells of the rectal mucosa, abundant gram-negative rod flora, rarely helminth eggs. These data are often confirmed by the discovery of appropriate lesions in the anus and rectal mucosa.
The prints of a rapist who has had sexual intercourse through the mouth show a huge number of salivary bodies, squamous cells with sex chromatin in the nuclei, mucus, mixed microflora (including sticks similar to leptotrichia).
Thus, the complexity of the forensic medical examination of suspects is recognized by many authors as expedient. It should be composed of the following main stages:
- Forensic examination of a suspect;
- Laboratory studies of evidence;
- Expert evaluation of research results;
- Drawing up a conclusion.
Thus, it becomes clear that the forensic medical assessment of the sex crime that has occurred is quite multifaceted and requires a sufficient level of attention. In this regard, the forensic physician has a direct responsibility to give a true conclusion both about the fact of sexual intercourse with a particular victim and about the circumstances of this commission, including severe physical injuries, a perverted form of sexual intercourse, etc.
We must not forget that the place of the victim can be taken not only a mature and healthy woman (although this happens most often) but also children and senile people with their anatomical, physiological and typical individual characteristics, which often significantly complicates the examination process.
We would also like to note the frequency of cases involving deliberate false testimony and an attempt to simulate a particular type of sexual crime for personal gain. This, in turn, makes it necessary to have caution, maximum vigilance and objectivity in making conclusions and judgments, no matter how serious the crime might seem at first glance.
At the same time, one should not lose sight of the possibility of a more serious crime in the presence of a small amount of available information, since the circumstances can be extremely diverse (the helpless state of the assaulted, cases of gang rape, the young age of the victim and many others).