Sexual activity 'likely cause' of girl's chlamydia - court
AN expert has told a jury that it was very unlikely that a three-year-old could have caught the disease chalmydia without having been subjected to sexual activity.
Avon and Somerset police constable James Williams is on trial, accused of abusing the girl.
A court has heard that, eight days after he allegedly touched her intimately, she complained of symptoms that were later found to be caused by the sexually transmitted disease.
Yesterday Peter Greenhouse, a consultant based at Bristol's Sexual Health Centre in Tower Hill, told the jury that the bacterial infection, which can cause infertility, is almost always passed on through sexual contact.
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He said: "Only in exceptional circumstances, when there is good evidence for it, should one consider the possibility, or accept the possibility, that the infection might have been transmitted accidentally.
"It's extremely rare to find people with chlamydia who have not had any sexual contact."
He said the disease could be passed on via the hand or fingers but that was rare and would need intimate contact with the recipient.
Williams, 28, who is suspended from duties as a response officer at Trinity Road police station, denies a charge of sexual assault by penetration on the girl, from Bristol.
Bournemouth Crown Court has already heard that, after the girl complained that he had "hurt" her private parts, both she and Williams were diagnosed with the type E chlamydia. There are currently 14 known strains of the infection, with E accounting for about half of recorded cases.
Giving his expert evidence, Mr Greenhouse emphasised the importance of taking his assessment in context, alongside the other evidence in the case.
"Just because an alleged assailant has an infection, does not mean that he must be the assailant," he said.
The jury has previously heard that 11 months before the allegation, the girl's dad was diagnosed and treated for conjunctival chlamydia, which affects the eye, and according to her mum, the three-year-old had spent time with him over that period.
However, when the girl went to the doctors, with symptoms of a cold, fever and "weepy" eye, she was not diagnosed with conjunctivitis or tested for it.
Mr Greenhouse said had she been suffering from it at the time, there is a "small possibility" it could have been passed on by close contact with her dad.
The court also heard that, 22 months after making the allegations against Williams and being treated with antibiotics, the girl was diagnosed with chlamydia again. During the intervening period she had not had contact with Williams, who now lives near Cardiff.
The court heard that between five and eight per cent of treatments for chlamydia are unsuccessful and Mr Greenhouse said the girl's history was "consistent with continuing low-level infection".
The trial continues.