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November 12, 1904


JAMA. 1904;XLIII(20):1474. doi:10.1001/jama.1904.02500200044007

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In our medicolegal items this week there is quoted some new legislation in Virginia regarding testimonies in cases of rape, that seem meritorious. There is no doubt that the public examination in court of the victim in such cases is often an outrage on decency, and may inflict an injury that can never be atoned for, perhaps blighting a whole life and adding infinitely to the hardship already undergone. Under the new Virginia law this evil is largely, if not entirely, removed. There is another and a more medical aspect of the case that is worth noting; the possibility of hysterical accusations is well recognized, and the prospect of a public examination and public sympathy in such is liable to only aggravate the hysterical tendency, at least in many cases. It seems to us that the private examination, properly conducted, is far more likely to determine the actual mental state

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