As part of CornerHouse’s commitment to the well-being of alleged victims of sexual abuse, a recommendation for a forensic medical examination may be made.
At CornerHouse, non-acute forensic medical examinations are generally provided at the recommendation of the multidisciplinary team, an investigator, the forensic interviewer, or at the request of an individual or their caregiver, when the last alleged incident occurred more than 72 hours prior to the exam.
The purpose of the medical exam is to:
A referral for a forensic medical examination may be appropriate if the alleged victim has disclosed:
Medical professionals with specialized training provide medical examinations in a manner that is person-centered and considerate of the individual’s needs. The room in which the examinations take place has been designed to be more comfortable for a child or adolescent than the typical examination room found in hospitals. A CornerHouse staff member assists the medical personnel in helping the individual feel as comfortable as possible by engaging her/him before, during, and after the medical exam. A sexual abuse medical exam is not traumatizing for most individuals. Though it is rare for a medical exam to find forensic evidence of abuse, a medical exam can be an important part of the recovery process.
The professionals conducting the medical examinations may be called to testify on the findings and can shed light on particular aspects of a child abuse investigation even when the exam findings are determined to be normal. Regardless of the investigative value of the medical examination, the real value may come in being able to reassure a child that his/her body is okay.
Medical examinations are available to all CornerHouse clients, regardless of their ability to pay. The sexual abuse forensic medical examination and supporting laboratory work will be conducted pursuant to Minn. Stat. §609.35 without cost to the child or family. Minn.Stat. §609.35 mandates that the cost will be paid for by “the county in which the criminal sexual conduct occurred.”
Law enforcement or child/adult protection investigators are responsible for communicating with caregivers as appropriate regarding the scheduling of the medical appointment. Investigators are not required to be present for the medical exam; CornerHouse will provide a copy of the medical report to investigators.
When the last alleged incident occurred within the last 72 hours, CornerHouse will generally refer clients to Hennepin County Medical Center for an acute sexual abuse forensic medical exam. Clients who need a medical evaluation of physical abuse will also generally be referred to Hennepin County Medical Center.
Quotes from caregivers
“The staff here made us feel comfortable and supported. I am very thankful for the information, support, and resources given.”
CornerHouse’s consulting pediatrician, Dr. Nancy Sanders Harper, is the Medical Director for the Center for Safe & Healthy Children at University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital and Hennepin County Medical Center. Dr. Harper is Board Certified in General Pediatrics and Child Abuse Pediatrics. Dr. Harper graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and completed her pediatric residency at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Virginia. Dr. Harper served as a staff pediatrician and Child Abuse Consultant for Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and US Naval Hospital Okinawa in Japan, and then entered into fellowship training in Forensic Pediatrics at Brown University. Dr. Harper then served as the Medical Director for the CARE Team at Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. Dr. Harper has evaluated thousands of children for possible maltreatment and has been engaged in policy-level work to prevent child abuse and promote child well-being. Dr. Harper currently serves as the programming chair for the AAP Section on Child Abuse and Neglect (SOCAN) and is invested in improving educational opportunities on child maltreatment both nationally and internationally. In her spare time, Dr. Harper enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, walking her dogs, reading books, and going to Pilates.
Here is a flowchart showing how to access medical exams for child victims of sexual abuse in Hennepin County.
CornerHouse works closely with the SARS program at Hennepin County Medical Center.