Our client, a military officer, was charged with physical abuse of a child. He had brought his child to the ER with a broken leg. The Prosecution Orthopedic Expert testified that the bone could only have been broken by child abuse. Under cross examination they could not name any study that measured the force it took to break a child’s bones.
It was learned that the father did one leg diaper changes on the child for months and one day heard a crack. The prosecution expert testified that it could only have been created by a sever twisting of the leg, in other word, physical child abuse.
The problem with obtaining research on this type of act, obviously, is that one cannot intentionally break the bones of children (dead or alive) to measure the force necessary. Even, University Researchers that were doing experiments on animals were facing animal rights advocates that were shutting down their research as cruel to animals.
Was it an extreme twisting of the child’s leg or a series of one-legged diaper changes?
Our in house Science Advisor contacted a researcher with a master’s degree in Library Sciences that worked at UCLA Medical School Library. She did a worldwide research and found two areas of relevant Scientific Knowledge. First, there was a study that gently rotated an animal’s leg while the researchers listened with stethoscopes and heard a faint micro fracking. This is like metal fatigue. Multiple very small micro cracks created over a period until the metal fails. The second area of research is highly emotional and unethical. During World War II some doctors (war criminals) actually did conduct studies on how much torque it would take to break a child’s bones. As can be imagined, this was extremely troubling for our Science Advisor, whose family were survivors of the Nazi concentration camps.
This research was given to the Defense Expert and became the basis of their opinion leading to a dismissal of the case in the Juvenile Court. SCIENCE SET HIM FREE.