The Role of Photographic and Video Documentation in the Investigation and Prosecution of Child Sexual Assault

Journal of Law and Medicine, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 925-937, 2016

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 16/78

17 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2016

See all articles by Annie Cossins

Annie Cossins

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law & Justice

Amanda Jayakody

University of Newcastle (Australia) - School of Medicine and Public Health

Christine Norrie

Children's Hospital Westmead

Patrick Parkinson

University of Queensland

Date Written: August 25, 2016

Abstract

Photographic documentation of the ano-genital region is an established aspect of practice in the medical assessment of children and young people where there is a suspicion of child sexual abuse. Such photo-documentation is normally collected by means of a colposcope. This provides a non-intrusive means of magnification and photographic documentation of the genital and perianal area.

In spite of its widespread acceptance by medical investigators, the use of colposcopy has attracted some controversy. Concerns have been expressed about potential negative aspects arising from the use of photo-documentation. How does the child experience the photographing or videotaping of his or her ano-genital area? Are there particular issues when children have been photographed for pornographic purposes by the alleged perpetrator? Will the defendant be prejudiced if those photographs are shown to the jury? What is the impact on the victim if those photographs are made available to the accused for the purposes of his/her defence? This article reviews the available research evidence in order to answer these questions and consider whether legal reforms are needed to better protect children from the unnecessary use, or misuse, of intimate photographic evidence in the criminal justice process.

Keywords: children, child sexual abuse, criminal law, medico-legal, evidence, photography

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K36

Suggested Citation

Cossins, Annie and Jayakody, Amanda and Norrie, Christine and Parkinson, Patrick, The Role of Photographic and Video Documentation in the Investigation and Prosecution of Child Sexual Assault (August 25, 2016). Journal of Law and Medicine, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 925-937, 2016, Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 16/78, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2830274

Annie Cossins

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law & Justice ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

Amanda Jayakody

University of Newcastle (Australia) - School of Medicine and Public Health ( email )

Newcastle
Australia

Christine Norrie

Children's Hospital Westmead ( email )

212 Hawkesbury Road
Westmead, New South Wales 2145
Australia

Patrick Parkinson (Contact Author)

University of Queensland ( email )

Forgan Smith Building
The University of Queensland
St Lucia, Queensland 4072
Australia

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