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Ramsey doctors: No history of abuse
By CLAY EVANS
Camera Staff Writer
March 16, 1997
JonBenet Ramsey's family has provided the district attorney a psychiatrist's videotaped interview with the girl's 10-year-old brother, a pediatrician's records and other information that they contend indicates the family has no history of sexual abuse, a source says.
The family has made Burke Ramsey's interview with the psychiatrist - who was selected by the Boulder County Department of Social Services - and all of JonBenet's medical records available to the prosecutor. They also allowed pediatrician Dr. Francesco Beuf and his nurses to speak with investigators.
"Police could not have obtained those things on their own, because they don't have subpoena power," said a source. "All that was completely voluntary on the part of the family."
The Ramseys' investigators also have conducted exhaustive interviews with family members, friends and people from deep in the past of JonBenet's mother, Patsy. But thus far, they have failed to turn up any evidence of past abuse of the murdered 6-year-old or her mother, the source said.
Police have been similarly stymied, according to sources.
Neither police nor District Attorney Alex Hunter would comment on what information the family has provided or the status of the investigation regarding past sexual abuse of JonBenet. Some close to the Ramseys say they were asked about abuse during police questioning. John and Patsy Ramsey have not yet agreed to be interviewed by police.
JonBenet's body was discovered in the basement of her family's University Hill home by John Ramsey and a friend on Dec. 26, about eight hours after her mother found a three-page ransom note demanding $118,000 for the girl's safe return. A coroner's examination found that she had been struck on the head, strangled with a cord and sexually assaulted before she died.
Police still have not named any suspects in the case, but two weeks ago ruled out John Ramsey's two children by a previous marriage, John Andrew Ramsey, 20, and Melinda Ramsey, 26.
The taped interview of Burke Ramsey demonstrates that the boy has not been molested and is unaware of any abuse of his sister, a source said. In addition, records from Beuf show no indication of abuse, the source said.
Investigators have invested hundreds of hours pursuing the sexual abuse angle, scouring the nation for any evidence that JonBenet, her two half-sisters - Melinda and Elizabeth, 22, who was killed in a 1992 car accident - or Patsy Ramsey were ever molested.
They've gone so far as to query reporters about what they know and exhumed a 5-year-old autopsy report on Elizabeth. (Police have since said Elizabeth's death has no implications in the JonBenet case.)
Besides the more obvious ramifications of possible past sexual abuse of JonBenet, investigators have tried to determine whether Patsy may have been abused in the past. Some have theorized that such a history could have created a psychological complex allowing her to deny the abuse of her daughter, or even to pen a false ransom note.
Two groups of handwriting experts, one from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the other hired by the Ramsey family, have concluded that John Ramsey did not write a ransom note found in the case, but that they cannot exclude the possibility that Patsy Ramsey did. Investigators for the family, however, called that possibility "highly unlikely."
While a coroner's report found JonBenet had been sexually assaulted before she was killed, "experts" have differed widely as to whether the evidence supports previous or chronic abuse. The coroner's report found "chronic inflammation and epithelial erosion" in the girl's vagina, leading Dr. Cyril Wecht, coroner of Allegheny County, Pa., to conclude that there was abuse at least two days before her death.
But others say anyone who hasn't examined the actual tissue couldn't reach a reliable conclusion.
"Poor hygiene can cause chronic inflammation," Dr. Joan Slook, a pediatrician with the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told the Daily Camera. "Some little girls can have asymptomatic bladder infections that can cause irritation in the vagina."
At the same time, other experts caution that sexual abuse of young children does not necessarily leave evidence easily detected in routine pediatric examinations. The abuse could consist of oral or manual contact, or the perpetrator may convince or force the child to touch his or her genitals instead.
JonBenet's vagina was not penetrated, sources say, but there were "bruises" or marks in her genital area.
"Signs of physical abuse are pretty obvious when you see bruises or fractures or abrasions," said Dr. Richard Krugman, dean of the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver and former director of the Kempe National Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. But "children can be sexually abused and have perfectly normal exams."
Far more important in determining a history of abuse are the child's statements, followed by his or her demeanor and behavior, experts say.
That's why Ramsey family representatives think the videotape of Burke Ramsey is significant: The interview clearly shows that the boy has not been abused and that he has no knowledge of any unusual problems with his sister, a source said. He also is full of praise and love for his parents, said the source.
"If you ask if perpetrators of sexual abuse are likely to abuse only same-sex or opposite sex children, some are and some aren't," Krugman said. "Some will sexually abuse all children."
Siblings and parents may well be aware that abuse of a child is occurring, he said, "but not always."

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