Associated Press

Prosecutor Cites Faulty Exams In Up To 170 Children's Cases

POSTED: 9:11 AM CDT April 20, 2004

A prosecutor says faulty physical exams performed by a former nurse may have resulted in wrongful conviction of some defendants in child sex abuse cases.

A review of examinations performed by the Children's Assessment Center nurse found potential problems in as many as 170 cases in which charges were filed, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said Monday. Rosenthal could not say how many of the cases are still pending and could now be in jeopardy.

"But I'm more concerned that she committed an error and that someone was convicted wrongfully," he told the Houston Chronicle in Tuesday's editions.

Founded in 1991 by the county, the assessment center provides a coordinated approach to evaluating and treating children believed to have been molested.

Suspected abuse victims are given a physical examination, counseling and other services. The results of the examinations help the district attorney's office decide which cases to prosecute and what can be used as evidence at trial.

Rosenthal said potential problems surfaced after the nurse left the CAC and the district attorney's office asked an independent doctor to verify her work in one case before it went to trial.

The office then initiated a peer review by area doctors of all of the nurse's cases. The reviews, he said, included medical records as well as either photographs or videotapes.

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