Sexual abuse ‘unproved’

A JUDGE has concluded that there is no case to answer over the alleged sexual abuse of Joana Cipriano, the eight-year-old girl who went missing in 2004, and that the case will not go to court.

The judge in charge of analysing the investigation deemed that there were “doubts” about the circumstances of how blood and semen traces ended up in the girl’s underwear, sheets, bedspread and a T-shirt, which were found by the Polícia Judiciária after her disappearance in September of that year.


During the course of the investigation, Leonor Cipriano, Joana’s mother, João Cipriano and Nelson Cipriano, two of the girl’s uncles, as well as António Leandro, Joana’s stepfather, were named “arguidos”.

In the official police report sent to the judge, PJ investigators said there was a “great probability” that the semen found on Joana’s underwear and sheets was her stepfather’s.

However, the report also stated that Leandro always denied ever having any kind of sexual contact with Joana although he refused to supply samples for forensic analysis.

Now, the judge concluded that the semen and blood on the clothing could have resulted from sexual contact or by accidental transfer because the dirty laundry had been carelessly piled at her home. This doubt led her to make the decision to close the case and said it was “pointless” to order further forensic tests of António Leandro.

The judge also confirmed that the semen found on one of Joana’s T-shirts belonged to João Cipriano, the uncle who was also accused of allegedly sexually abusing Joana. However, she accepted that the explanation presented by the accused, João Cipriano, that he had sexual intercourse with his sister, Leonor, mother of the missing Joana, was reasonable.


The final report also mentions that several witness testimonies have confirmed that there were no indications of any sexual contact between the two men and Joana, and that her mother was not aware of any abuse. These statements also influenced the judge’s decision to close the case.

Nelson Cipriano, Joana’s other uncle, was cleared from the case in its early stage.

Leonor and João Cipriano are currently serving jail sentences for murder and concealing the body of Joana Cipriano.

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