State v. Pierce, 238 N.C. App. 537 (Dec. 31, 2014)

In this sexual assault case, no plain error occurred when a pediatric nurse practitioner testified to the opinion that her medical findings were consistent with the victim’s allegation of sexual abuse. The nurse performed a physical examination of the victim. She testified that in girls who are going through puberty, it is very rare to discover findings of sexual penetration. She testified that "the research, and, . . . this is thousands of studies, indicates that it's five percent or less of the time that you would have findings in a case of sexual abuse -- confirmed sexual abuse." With respect to the victim, the expert testified that her genital findings were normal and that such findings "would be still consistent with the possibility of sexual abuse." The prosecutor then asked: “Were your medical findings consistent with her disclosure in the interview?” She answered that they were. The defendant argued that the expert’s opinion that her medical findings were consistent with the victim’s allegations impermissibly vouched for the victim’s credibility. Citing prior case law, the court noted that the expert “did not testify as to whether [the victim’s] account of what happened to her was true,” that she was believable or that she had in fact been sexually abused. “Rather, she merely testified that the lack of physical findings was consistent with, and did not contradict, [the victim’s] account.”