Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 182–188 | Cite as

Investigative strategy for the forensic detection of sperm traces

  • Heidrun Evers
  • Frank Heidorn
  • Christin Gruber
  • Gabriele Lasczkowski
  • Manfred Riße
  • Reinhard Dettmeyer
  • Marcel A. VerhoffEmail author
Original Article


In a retrospective study, the results from 786 samples of alleged sexual assaults during a 5-year period were evaluated. Of the samples, 758 were from female victims and 28 were from male victims. The material examined during this 5-year period consisted of 561 cotton swabs with swabs taken from the genitals, mouth, anus, or skin surface. In addition, textile products were examined 191 times, paper products 23 times, and other evidentiary materials 11 times. The acid phosphatase (acP) test was performed as a preliminary test for all samples, followed by microscopy after Baecchi staining. DNA analysis was performed on 74 samples following individual court orders. The retrospectively evaluated results from this period indicate that additional tests for the detection of sperm on textiles and paper products are dispensable after a negative acP test. This is different for genital swabs, since sperm could be found microscopically in 3% of cases with a negative acP test, and DNA analysis was also successful. However, an individual investigative strategy has to be determined for each case, as, depending on the structure of the case, the evidence of male DNA on a female victim, or on her clothes, for instance, can also have evidentiary value without microscopic proof for sperm.


Sperm detection Sexual assault Acid phosphatase test Baecchi staining Forensic DNA analysis 



We would like to thank Herrn Wolfgang Pabst from the medical statistics workgroup at the Medical Department of the Justus-Liebig-University in Gießen for his support during the project.


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Copyright information

© Humana Press 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidrun Evers
    • 1
  • Frank Heidorn
    • 1
  • Christin Gruber
    • 1
  • Gabriele Lasczkowski
    • 1
  • Manfred Riße
    • 1
  • Reinhard Dettmeyer
    • 1
  • Marcel A. Verhoff
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Legal MedicineUniversity of GießenGießenGermany

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