Attempting to avoid some of the most common methodological problems involved in research on sexual child abuse, we collected data on crimes, perpetrators, and sanctions in all convicted cases of sexual child abuse in a defined population during a 5-year period. This approach provided amply documented and ascertained cases with precise definitions and descriptions of the crimes involved, no clinical referral bias, and minimal dependence on memory effects. The results are valid for the small proportion of cases that lead to conviction in the context of Swedish legislation. Structured data were collected from the court dossiers in all cases of sexual crimes against minors (less than 15 years of age) tried and sentenced at the courts in the Västra Götaland region of Sweden between 1993 and 1997. The total number of 496 sentences for sexual crimes during the study period included 203 cases of sexual child abuse (40.8%) with 283 victims and 196 perpetrators, all men. Girls were victims in 85% of the cases, boys in 12%, and boys as well as girls in 3%. Sexual penetration had occurred in 54.5% of cases and the total proportion of hands-on crimes was 83%. Most perpetrators, 72%, were well known to the child. The most severe offenses took place within the family. A wide range of acts were classified as sexual child abuse, but most common was sexual penetration of a female child by her biological father or a family friend.