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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2014 June;134(2):101-9
Case of sexual abuse of a minor ascertained with inadequate methodology
Venturino G., Galiero G., Fortunato F.
Settore di Psicodiagnostica, Sezione di Medicina Legale, Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale, Seconda Università di Napoli, Napoli, Italia
Our outpatient clinic provides psychodiagnostic services for clients seeking consultation in civil and penal cases. Often, our clients request a review of documents, assessments or evaluation methods because they believe the mental health officer conducted the psychodiagnistic evaluation inappropriately. Indeed, on re-examination we have often found such evaluations to be questionable because of flawed methodology. We report on the court proceedings and expert opinion concerning a 76-year-old man placed under precautionary house arrest for the alleged sexual abuse of his 12-year-old niece. In our review of the case, the client underwent psychodiagnostic examination to assess his personality. The psychodiagnostic evaluation showed: anxiety disorder due to a medical condition; previous catheter ablation for cardiac arrhythmias; moderate depression associated with severe psychosocial stress induced by environmental stressors and moderate somatization disorder (DSM IV TR). Review of the documents of the hearings and of consultations from the one side and from the mental health office consultancy demonstrated that the evaluations had not been conducted using the correct methodology. The test battery administered using an individual methodology did not include validated tests for psychoclinical examination of personality and IQ of the minor; the most recent hospital diagnosis was not followed up with further clinical, neuropsychological examinations; stress, symptoms and problems due to conflicts among family members were misrecognized as indicators of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Proper training of professionals in the field would avoid unnecessary economic and moral damage and restraint of personal liberty.