Boy allegedly raped by dad “showed no signs of injury when examined”

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A child who was allegedly raped by his father with a hot poker showed no signs of injury when medically examined after he was taken into care a trial has heard.

The trial, which has entered its fifth week at the Central Criminal Court, also heard evidence that a lack of physical injury did not mean that no abuse took place, especially if the alleged abuse occurred a long time ago.

The boy has previously alleged his father raped him, sexually abused him with a hot poker and forced him to have sex with his mother over the course of several years from when he was about six years old in their Waterford home.

The father is alleged to have filmed some of these incidents and shown them to others. He is further alleged to have held a gun to the child's head and to have left him locked in a box.

The parents face a total of 82 charges of abuse between 2007 and 2011 in Waterford. The father and mother have pleaded not guilty to 16 counts each of sexual exploitation and one charge each of child cruelty.

The mother has also denied 16 counts of sexual assault while the father denies 16 counts of anal rape and 16 counts of sexual assault with a poker.

Dr Elizabeth Walsh who specialises in child protection for Tusla told prosecuting counsel Pauline Walley SC she examined the child when he was nine years old, three months after he was taken out of the family home by social workers.

She said she examined his genitals and anus and found “no bruises, braises, lacerations or scars.” She said she performed tests for several sexually transmitted diseases which came back negative.

“He was a well-presented, neatly dressed nine year old boy with good hygiene,” Dr Walsh said.

The doctor said “the absence of injury does not exclude the possibility of child sexual abuse.” She said it was possible superficial or even deep lacerations to the area could have healed without leaving a scar.

Dr Walsh said that 80 percent of children showed no signs of injuries to the area even when examined within seven days of alleged sexual abuse. This number rose to 95 percent when more than seven days had elapsed.

Colman Cody SC, representing the boy's father, asked Dr Walsh if a hot poker could be used to sexually abuse the child and result in no signs of injury, even when it was turned around clockwise and anti-clockwise as had been alleged.

Dr Walsh said it may or may not leave signs of injury. She said bruises and lacerations would disappear “within days” and the only remnant might be a scar, although it was also possible that no scar would be left.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Robert Eagar and a jury.