SEX OFFENDERS AND SEX CRIME INVESTIGATION
"Every human being is like every other human being and like no other human being" (Clyde Kluckhohn)
Sex offending, in all its varieties, is a topic where it is important to remain emotionally detached and open minded. It is also a topic deserving of more research than has been done. Sex offenders are the most heterogeneous group of offenders in all of criminology. Sex offenders are the most demonized type of criminal in the media (Jewkes 2011). Investigation of sex crime is extraordinarily difficult. The most common problem in police investigation is staleness of probable cause, because victims often wait months (and sometimes years) before reporting anything. Also, a lot of anonymous tips come in from concerned citizens rather than the victims themselves. There are a number of controversies and/or myths about sex offenders. Whole pages could be written on the myths, but one of the most important correctives, at least according to most mental health and medical professionals, is that pedophilia is truly a disease (and should never be considered normal). Such offenders are truly "sick" not mad, bad, or evil. They are also not always homosexuals. All mention of homosexuality was purged from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1987. The average person, even a forensic psychologist, is most likely to establish a connection with this field by coming into contact with victims rather than offenders. However, sex offenders are prevalent and have existed throughout history, but a complete historical account tends to be a taboo topic, and in the absence of serious scholarship, pro-pedophile activist groups like Free Spirits, NAMBLA, the Rene Guyon Society, and the Childhood Sensuality Circle (among others) make unverifiable claims about history and the inevitability of pederasty (the love of youthful sexual vitality in young boys). Suffice it to say that the sex drive is basic to our human nature, and the topic of sex is central to our sense of morality. For example, there is a group of people called sex addicts, but it is unknown if sex offenders share any of the same traits as those people (Carnes 1996). This lecture attempts to define what a "sex offender" is, and also provide an overview of what the research shows we know (and don't know) about sex offenders.
Terry (2012) does a good job defining what a sex offender is by analyzing the common elements of state statutes across America. According to this approach, there are four (4) primary characteristics that criminalize a sexual act:
1. Touching or penetration of an intimate part of the
body without consent or when the victim is incapable of giving consent
2. Acts for the sole purpose of sexual gratification that involve no contact; e.g., exposure, flashing, peeping, etc.
3. Viewing, possessing, or producing sexual material, of a visual or textual nature; i.e., pornography, involving children
4. Prostitution in the traditional sense as well as all other kinds of sexual services or offers for promises of money and/or a better life
The most common element to the definition is lack of consent, although even this is subject to some legal interpretation. Lack of consent proven by youthful age is usually pretty easy to prove, statutorily, however, but whether a victim is (was) under duress, or whether a reasonable person would understand that the victim did not give an implicit agreement to consent, are often the subjects of legal disagreements. Legal offenses that are sexual offenses vary considerably, by type, by degree of severity, by class of offense, and by length of legal sanction.
THE MEDIA TREATMENT OF SEX OFFENDERS
Historically, sexual offenders have been characterized as "fiends," "psychopaths," and "predators," but following the three distinct phases of moral panics in the 20th century over those characterization, so-called "pedophiles" have become the number one demon among the media during modern moral panics. This is because children are involved, and society has a rather paradoxical view toward children. When they are offenders themselves, they are demonized as "evil monsters" but when they are victims, they are "tragic innocents." One of the most telling media cases involved the murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993 by two ten-year olds. Worldwide, this case crystallized almost all the stereotypes and varieties of moral outrage that could possibly be had on the subject. In America, the more well-known case involved Megan Kanka, looked at in detail below:
A Close-Up Look at Megan's Law
|Megan Kanka was a 7-year old who was sexually assaulted and murdered in New Jersey on October 31, 1994. She was killed by a neighbor, Jesse Timmendequas, who had twice been convicted of similar sex offenses and was on parole. Megan's law, as originally passed, required sex offenders, upon their release from prison, to register with law enforcement authorities, who are to then notify the public by releasing their name, a recent photograph, a physical description, a list of previous offenses, current address, place of employment or school, and automobile license plate number. Currently, all 50 states and the federal government have some version of Megan's law. In some cases, public notification only takes place in the offender's neighborhood, but the larger public usually has access to a more complete registry in some fashion. In 1996, President Clinton signed the Pam Lyncher Sexual Offender Tracking and Identification Act, which established a national registry finally completed in 1998. This registry allows job applicants to be screened to see if they are on any list from any state. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was added in 2006 to establish a tiered system of how often and how long one must stay registered.|
THE ETIOLOGY OF SEX OFFENDING
Despite some experts who say we will never be able to diagnose what "sex offending" is (Doren 2002), one can easily find in the literature (Geffner et. al. 2004), and in practice, at least three popular approaches to defining the phenomenon: (1) the theological definition, which in many ways is similar to the sociological or social work definition, as someone who has crossed (trespassed) the socio-moral "boundaries" for acceptable expressions of sexual thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors; (2) the legal definition, which is the most popular definition, as someone who has been charged and convicted of some illegal sexual behavior under one or more of the many sex-related laws that vary widely by jurisdiction; and (3) the mental health/mental illness definition, which is the most controversial definition, as someone who has regular thoughts, fantasies, urges, and behaviors which are deviant, abnormal, atypical, or unusual, such as anything falling under the heading of the APA umbrella term, paraphilias. There is a tendency with the theological definition to view the offender as one of "God's mistakes" or via some secularized biopsychological version of this, and to call for the urgent application of treatment, sometimes radical treatment. The legal definition has spawned what can only be described as the criminal justice system thrashing around rather aimlessly for a management solution, via a curious mixture of aftercare plans which encompass clarification (the writing of an apology letter to the victim), clinical polygraphs (to tell when the offender is lying), community notification (giving citizens access to registries about offenders living in their area), and family reunification (the joining together of the offender's family unit), to name a few. The mental health/mental illness definition has prompted longstanding debates (Culver & Gert 1982) among psychologists as to the appropriateness of continuing to include certain paraphilias within the DSM IV classification as mental disorders. It is clear, however, that most psychologists do not regard sex offenders as psychopaths or suffering from some sort of personality/characterological disorder. Personality disorders are not the same thing as paraphilias. There are some eight main paraphilias described in the DSM IV, and although other etiological theories exist (superego theories, biological theories, feminist theories, attachment theories, cognitive-behavioral theories, childhood victimization theories, and routine activities theories, the majority of criminological explanations do NOT factor out the possible role of a paraphilia as the result of some deficient intrapsychic development that involves a blockage with normal emotional and physical outlets. How this plays out in a situational context is described by Finkelhor (1984) in four stages:
1. an individual develops a motivation to
sexually abuse (they come to believe they relate better to children than adults)
2. an individual overcomes internal inhibitions to sexually abuse (they believe it is not harmful or that it is educational)
3. an individual overcomes external factors that inhibit sexual abuse (they build up trust by establishing the pretense of a normal relationship)
4. an individual overcomes the victim's resistance (they manipulate the victims emotionally and psychologically)
Some people have more than one paraphilia and some have more than one sexual fetish, but the DSM-IV is fairly restrictive about which paraphilias usually constitute enough "distress" to qualify as a mental disorder in themselves. Distress or impairment in functioning in a social, occupational, or school domain must be present. Some cases of paraphilia might be better classified as volitional disabilities or disorders of impulse control instead of sexual disorders. To qualify as a mental disorder, and to use the proper psychological jargon for it, the stress of having a paraphilia should be "ego-dystonic" (incompatible with a person's ego or self-concept) rather than "ego-syntonic" (compatible with their ego or self-concept). In other words, a sex offender is only mentally ill when the stress is endogenous, or caused by something within (like a sense of guilt, shame, or confusion). Mental illness is not present when the stress is exogenous, or caused by a reaction to society's attitudes about sex, or caused by a criminal justice or mental health system simply saying someone is a sex offender. However, the DSM-IV recognizes cases where there ought to be some internal stress, and denial of being in denial is a sign of mental illness. The diagnosis of denial is part of what gives psychologists their monopoly over being able to be more-or-less selective about which paraphilias constitute a mental disorder, and the DSM-IV's select list presently includes only rape, child molesting (pedophilia), object fetishes, cross-dressing (transvestic fetishism), sado-masochism, voyeurism, frotteurism (rubbing), and exhibitionism. However, rape is controversial, since many psychologists are willing to admit that rape is a crime of violence and not really a sexual disorder (Bartol & Bartol 2004).
At law, the terms rape and sexual assault are used interchangeably, especially at the state level, where one is likely to find a diversity of statutory definitions. Technically, however, the term "rape" should be reserved for acts where penetration is involved. The terms abuse and assault are also used interchangeably. The federal law makes a distinction between sexual abuse and aggravated sexual abuse. Ordinary sexual abuse involves threats, fear, or inability to decline participation, and aggravated sexual abuse involves force or drugs. The federal law and some states also use other terms, such as "other sexual offense," sodomy, and fondling, but these almost always require the element of force. Statutory rape (consenting sex with an underage partner) and "rape by fraud" (sex with a professional supposedly as part of "treatment") are the only two types of sex offenses which don't require the element of force. However, the charge of "attempt" is frequently used in prosecuting many sex offenses, and is a charging practice that varies by jurisdiction.
PREVALENCE OF SEX OFFENDING
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimates that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are sexually assaulted before they reach adulthood, yet less than 35% of those child sexual assaults are reported to authorities. The Uniform Crime Reports indicate that about 90,000 forcible rapes are recorded ever year, but the number has been rather consistently going down year after year. Of these rapes, only about 44% of them are "cleared" or solved by the arrest of some perpetrator. A vast number of offenders are getting away with rape since NCVS data rather consistently show that less than 33% of all rapes are reported to authorities. It is known that about half of all rapes occur in dating situations (Madigan & Gamble 1989), possibly making "date rape" the most prevalent form of this crime, while a significant portion of the remaining 50% is committed by family members or caretakers, making rape definitely a non-stranger crime. Other varieties of sex offending are discussed below.
Statutory rape/Indecent liberties: This
involves a consensual situation in which force is not involved and the only
consideration is the age of consent, established by each state legislature
(usually 13, 14, or 15 years old), and the age of the perpetrator (usually more
than 4 years older than the victim). The victim is almost always a female and
the perpetrator almost always male (the FBI doesn't even recognize the crime of
rape where the victim is a male). American culture is rich with notions related
to statutory rape, such as the phrases "jail bait" or "She was 14 going on 21,"
and such cultural traditions are even more prevalent outside of the United
States. Punishments vary widely, but statutory rape is usually a lower-level
felony crime in America. As anyone knows who has looked at the teenage pregnancy
statistics, there is a considerable amount of sex taking place with this age
group. It is seldom prosecuted, and when it is, it is usually plea bargained
down from a rape to an indecent liberties charge (or something else in
the offenses against public morality category). Indecent liberties is usually a
misdemeanor and covers sex between or with anybody below a certain age (usually
16 years of age). The charge of indecent liberties also avoids getting into
whether vaginal or anal penetration occurred. All that is required to prove
indecent liberties is lewdness, lasciviousness, or specific intent to arouse or
gratify a sexual desire.
Peeping/Leering/Indecent Exposure: Some crimes that are related to statutory rape might include window peeping because typically the same age group is involved, and the offense always (by law usually) involves a female victim. No law prohibits women from peeping on men. Another offense is indecent exposure, or "flashing" as it's called. Although the common stereotype is of some old man in a trench coat, the reality is that this behavior often involves people of young age. Peeping, flashing, and "streaking" are usually simple misdemeanors. Leering, along with pinching, grabbing, suggestive comments, and gestures, are generally treated as cases of sexual harassment and handled under civil law.
Juvenile sex offenses: These come
in a variety of forms, and typically involve parties between the ages of 13 and
17 where the perpetrator is usually male with a history of difficulties with
impulse control and judgment. About 40% have some type of learning disability,
and as many as 80% have some type of diagnosed psychiatric disorder. 30% have a
history of physical abuse, and 60% have a history of sexual abuse. While a
history of sexual abuse is significant, it should not alone be considered the
cause of future abusing. A number of other factors play into the creation of a
sex offender, and there are documented numbers of cases where someone was
sexually abused as a child and never became a sex offender (Becker & Murphy
1998). When juveniles are charged with rape, the
situation usually involves force and there is a significant age difference
between the victim and the perpetrator. Juvenile rape occurs most frequently in
institutionalized settings (juvenile prisons, camps, hospitals, military
schools, etc.), and males are the predominant victims in those settings. In
non-institutional settings, a juvenile rapist fits one of the profiles of
ordinary serial rapists with two exceptions, there is more of a chance the
perpetrator is white and an acquaintance of the victim. There is also some small
evidence to suggest that if the juvenile victim screams and resists, this tends
to help the situation, whereas the reverse is more likely true with adult
Juvenile rape: This tends to come in two forms, first- and second-degree, depending upon whether injury or harm comes to the victim. The behavior must be against the will of the other person, thus raising the nonconsent factor. This is ironic because most "shield laws" protect adult victims but not juvenile victims. Fortunately, nonconsent does not come up much with juvenile rape because the victim is usually presented in court as mentally incapacitated or physically helpless in some way due to their youthful age. Also, juvenile rape offenses tend to cover a wide ground of sexual acts: including cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, etc.
Sexual exploitation: A number of offenses exist on the basis of the "exploitation" term. The most common charges involve disseminating harmful material to a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor. The former would involve providing the minor with any material that depicts sexually explicit nudity or activity (a common seductive ploy of some rapists and pedophiles), and the latter would involve videotaping the victim while engaged in sensual or sexual activity.
Online victimization/Cyber-predation: Online predators of children exist, and risks associated with such use of the Internet pose an immediate danger to families and children. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has conducted studies which indicate that one in five children (10 to 17 years old) receive unwanted sexual solicitations online every year, and one in four children encounter unwanted pornography. The distribution of child pornography and the use of Internet chat rooms by pedophiles to gain access to children are two of the best-known and most feared forms of cyber-predation. Henderson (2005) documents the numerous large-scale operations conducted by the FBI, Interpol, and other law enforcement agencies which have netted hundreds of alleged offenders since the mid-1990s.
THE CRIME OF INCEST
Incest is a sexual relationship with a near relative (including parent-child, grandparent-grandchild, brother-sister, uncles, aunts, first or second cousins, although in the majority of states, sex between cousins in not considered incest). As a general rule, incest is any sexual contact between relatives where marriage is illegal. Incest involving a child is a form of child abuse. Incest can include inappropriate touching, display of genitalia, or sexual intercourse. The law of incest covers stepchildren and half- as well as whole-blood relatives. Parent and child relationships are the most frequently reported, although brother and sister relationships are not uncommon. Incest has many psychological effects, and recovery is difficult and important to begin with as soon as possible. Dissociative Identity Disorders can occur in one of four ways: amnesia, fugue states (a tendency to wander off), multiple personalities, and depersonalization (a feeling like one is watching one's body from outside). Depersonalization is usually the first symptom, and fugue states must be carefully distinguished from runaway behavior. However, there are a variety of other symptoms (see Checklist) which have not been extensively studied. There is a need for much more criminological research into the crime of incest. Incest offenders are often behaviorally similar to those who commit crimes against nature, bigamy, fornication, and adultery. Crimes against nature involves sex with animals or birds. Bigamy is having more than one wife. Fornication is cohabiting with someone who is not your wife, and adultery is bedding with someone who is not your wife.
It is customary to distinguish incest offenders from pedophiles. However, it should be noted that this is a controversial matter. For instance, a North Carolina-based group calling itself PROTECT (National Association to Protect Children) takes serious issue with the distinction. The distinction began around 1981 with the testimony of Hank Giarretto in California who convinced authorities to give preferential treatment to incest perpetrators on the basis that those who molested their own children were not "pedophiles" and should not be treated as such. The so-called "Giarretto model" spread throughout the U.S. in popularity during the 1980s as a model of "family reunification" or the more well-known "Parents United" movement. It became the "darling" treatment program of social workers, Child and Family Service officials, and mandated reporters almost everywhere. Unfortunately, most of the graduates of such programs escaped incarceration by participating in group counseling programs which claimed to have a high success rate, but also had a high number of repeat, recidivist offenders. The following are the Giarretto distinctions between the two offender groups in question:
|INCEST OFFENDERS||PEDOPHILE OFFENDERS|
|-generally, underadequate individuals||-generally, overadequate individuals|
|-low self esteem, inhibited, introverted||-high self esteem, extroverted|
|-no real sense of self or identity||-often self-insightful, articulate|
|-often from lower class broken home||-often from middle class, stable home|
|-strong denial of facts & responsibility||-rationalization of facts & responsibility|
|-75% of time family lives with alcoholism; a typical alcoholic family that covers up conflict very well||-alcoholism not usually present, but is used as a seductive tool to loosen up inhibitions of victims|
|-enmeshed family relationship; father put up on pedestal as good provider; mother in geisha-like supportive role||-if married and not living with mother or grandmother (more frequent), the marriage is a sham & everyone knows it|
|-little education/intellectual deficits||-often high intelligence/college educated|
|-sexual history may include homosexuality, but fear of femininity||-sexual history may include homosexuality, other deviant acts|
|-molests occur while mother in hospital or unable to provide sex or father home for long periods of time (stress)||-molests occur in response to fantasy-driven cycle; e.g., babysitters, pornography (compulsion)|
|-makes victim feel powerful and like an adult (replacement for mother)||-makes victim feel like a child|
|-has no conception of age-appropriate stages or behaviors (mixes up years)||-has very clear and concrete ideas about what is appropriate for each age group|
One of the more interesting areas of Giarretto's work with the enmeshed families (as they are called) where there is an incest offender was to focus upon the wives of the offenders. Giarretto never invented the idea of enmeshed families, however, and Dr. Drew is probably a better source of information on sex-related relationship issues. Dr. Drew's theory (and one with wide ramifications) is that women with borderline personality disorders tend to be attracted to and hook up with men who manifest symptoms of psychopathic personality disorder. There are many interesting dynamics involved in the extremes to which the wives of perpetrators will defend their husband, or like other family members, will signal an unwillingness to monitor boundary violations. An interesting typology can be developed which involves the following classification of WIVES of men who molest:
the WORN OUT
the COERCED INVOLVEMENT
the SEXUAL PSYCHOPATH
The above typology has not been validated, nor has it been used in any research study that is known about. Approaching the study of sex offending from a relationship point of view may or may not have its advantages. Again, the crime of incest is not studied enough, nor is it even mentioned in most forensic psychology books (e.g. Bartol & Bartol 2004). The topic is also noticeably absent among criminological research. On the other hand, much is known about rapists and child molesters.
TYPOLOGIES OF MEN WHO RAPE
From Holmes and Holmes (2009), it is known that rape is primarily a crime committed by men between the hours of 6:00 p.m. to midnight and who happen to be young (80% being younger than age 30). According to Greenfeld's (1997) research, rapists are quite likely to be serial, or repeat, offenders as well as manifest a wide spectrum of antisocial behavior throughout the early part of their lifespan. Their criminal histories seem to indicate a generalized, over-inflated sense of entitlement in that they are frequently involved in shoplifting, auto theft, arson, assault, and cruelty to animals, or things which indicate they take or do what they want. For the most part, they are unsociable, lonely individuals (but not as lonely as child molesters). The most remarkable intrapersonal factor involves marked deficiencies in heterosexual skill development, that, and a common pattern of abusing alcohol along with enjoyment of violent pornography. Holmes and Holmes (2009) speculate that an overly controlling yet seductive mother represents the typical family background of a rapist, that, and quite possibly bed sharing with a sibling or parent. Several scholarly attempts have been made to classify the many types of rapists. Bartol & Bartol (2004) report on no less than five (5) rapist typologies, and many criminology books can be found reporting on many more studies and typologies of rapists. One might observe that it could very well be time to abandon the creation of rapist typologies and start seriously theorizing about them. Two typologies of rapists are discussed below.
The Massachusetts Treatment Center Rapist Typology Version 3 (abbreviated MTC:R3) is perhaps the most empirically validated rapist typology in use today. The Center referred to is at Bridgewater, Massachusetts, one of the nation's most famous prisons for the criminally insane during the 1960s, which over the years became a prison for the sexually dangerous, and is now just called a State Hospital in the Dept. of Corrections. Among the many relevant publications about the MTC:R3, perhaps two of the most readable ones are Knight & Prentky (1987) and Knight et. al. (1998). The typology holds that there are nine (9) types of rapists, as follows, where the more complex notion of "social competence" has been replaced by the more easily understood concept of assertiveness:
Type 1: Opportunistic assertive -- driven by opportunities which arise in the context of some other antisocial act, such as a robbery or burglary, where they just "happen" to run into a victim; impulsive, indifferent, and a callous disregard for others
Type 2: Opportunistic non-assertive -- same as above, but less socially competent; poor social skills, and a longer history of impulsiveness extending into adolescence
Type 3: Pervasively angry -- nonsexualized anger at the whole world, unstable childhood, "macho," quick-tempered, and possibly an antisocial personality or psychopath; inadequate planning for attack
Type 4: Sexual sadistic non-fantasy -- demonstrates both sexual and aggressive elements in assault, enjoys abusing victims, and interprets victim's resistance as a game; usually married; extensive paraphilias
Type 5: Sexual sadistic fantasy -- same as above, but has a well-rehearsed fantasy they enjoy playing out with victim during the assault
Type 6: Sexual non-sadistic non-assertive -- needs to "prove" sexual prowess and adequacy to victim; power reassurance type; lives in a world of fantasy where victim will fall in love with them afterwards; highly sexualized, but lacking in self-control and has multiple cognitive-perceptual distortions of reality
Type 7: Sexual non-sadistic assertive -- same as above, but less cognitive-perceptual distortions of reality, more socially competent; usually selects and stalks victims; often an erotomania who stalks celebrities
Type 8: Vindictive non-assertive -- uses rape to humiliate and degrade women, and selects victims who represent the appearance of assertiveness, independence, or professionalism; often in a relationship or marriage with frequent friction, stress, or irritation; uses profanity a lot during attack; victim resistance escalates violence
Type 9: Vindictive assertive -- same as above, but usually in a relationship or marriage where they are a frequent wife beater, the verbalization of profanity is greater, and the attack usually more sadistic (biting, cutting, or tearing of parts of the body)
Some additional facts about the above types of rapists reported in Bartol & Bartol (2004) include the following: some 80% of all rapists have fantasies of one sort or another; sadism is usually evident if the targeted area of injury is an erogenous zone of the victim, and sadistic types in general are more likely to offend against victims who are close friends or family; and the most frequent cognitive-perceptual distortions of reality tend to involve either "rape myths" (where the offender holds macho beliefs, thinks violence is sexy, and that women need to be kept in their place) or "schemas" (where the offender misreads cues, thinks no means yes, or holds strong beliefs that women express the exact opposite of their intended meanings). These "schemas" constitute a hostile attribution bias, and are often a key clinical element in juvenile conduct disorder, or the juvenile version of antisocial personality disorder (Dodge 1993). The older the rapist, the more likely there is a history of social peer support, usually involving alcohol, drugs, and a pornography viewing habit.
The Groth Rapist Typology is not to be confused with the one by Groth for child molesters, although it is the same person, Nicholas Groth (1979; Groth, Burgess & Holmstrom 1977) who invented them. Dr. Groth is a former Director of the Sex Offender Program at Somers State Prison in the Connecticut Dept. of Corrections. Although the Groth typology doesn't have the validity and reliability of the MTC:R3, it is popular among some clinicians and police departments because of its simplicity of use. The typology holds that there are three (3) types of rapists, as follows:
power reassurance rapist -- uses rape to express sexual conquest, establish masculine identity, and likely to kidnap victim for repeated assaults over an extended period of time; the least violent type who often has frequent interests in exhibitionism and voyeurism; may be impotent; keeps souvenirs and diary; cooling off period runs from 7 to 15 days
anger retaliation rapist -- uses rape to degrade, humiliate, and ultimately hurt women; expresses profanity and a bad temper; frequents bars, sporting events, and likes action; attacks often prompted by some marital conflict, occupational or financial problem; may have been physically abused as child; 80% come from divorced family; sometimes chooses a slightly older victim
sadistic rapist -- a compulsive personality, better educated, clean-cut looking type who has eroticized aggression and violence so that pain and pleasure are one and the same for him; uses torture or bondage to experience sexual arousal over victim's suffering; frequently targets prostitutes, promiscuous women, or those who symbolize something he wants to destroy or punish; least likely to get caught or have a criminal record; recreational drinker or drug user
Knight and Prentky (1987) add a fourth type, which they name as follows:
exploitive rapist -- also called the power assertive type; a predator/stalker interested in proving his macho identity and believes he is entitled to rape; is very image conscious and athletic; most likely to be a sociopath or psychopath and a high school or military dropout
The study of rapists has this connection to the study of child molesters. Both types of offenders use some kind of trademark pressure or force to get their victims to comply. For example, some of the common tactics include: enticement, where the victim is cajoled with gifts, treats, and affection; entrapment, a common technique of abusers in general who make the victim feel indebted or obligated to them; intimidation, where the offender uses some sort of position power to make the victim feel in awe of them; and physical force, which involves seeing the victim only as an object for the offender's satisfaction. Van Dam's (2001) typology of child molesters is based primarily on the levels of pressure or force used, and the commonality is that both rapists and child molesters usually will not take no for an answer.
When most people think of child molesters, they are thinking of pedophiles, and the APA strictly defines a pedophile as "a person who over at least a 6 month period has recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (age 13 years or younger)." Several other terms exist in the literature. For example, there is the term "hebephile" which refers to sexually attraction to post-pubertal adolescents (ages 14 to 17), the terms "ephebophile" and "phebophile" which refer to those who focus on the moments of puberty in their victims (puberty for males ranges from ages 10 to 17; for females from ages 9 to 14), and the term "teleiophile" which refers to an attraction for adults but also for children under certain circumstances. Hebephiles are the most common type. Regardless of the terminological debates and other controversies over where "primary" sexual preference lies, most forms of pedophilia are regarded as a mostly incurable condition in which the sexual object (or fetish) is a child, and the behavior pattern manifests some obsessive-compulsive characteristics similar to the fantasy-driven cycles of serial killers, rapists, and other repeat offenders. The pedophile may be any adult, male or female, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, married, or single. Evidence exists that they are born that way, with lower IQ, less white matter in the brain (which permits crosswiring), and a disproportionate tendency toward left-handedness (Blanchard et al. 2007; Cantor et al. 2008). As a general rule, pedophiles are inadequate socially, lack interpersonal skills, are non-assertive, and have low self-esteem, but this may only describe the "regressed" type, which is the most common. The other "fixated" type has probably been nurturing his or her interest in children for some time and has become expert at engaging children at their own emotional level, but still, outside of their child relationships, they are likely to view themselves as helpless and ineffective. Some general characteristics of pedophiles include:
In the most common typology (the Burgess, Groth, and Holmstrom model), there are two (2) main types of pedophiles: the SITUATIONAL and the PREFERENTIAL. The difference between these two main types is that situational pedophiles will stalk almost any vulnerable group (the elderly, the handicapped, etc.) and the preferential pedophile will stick to children of a certain age range. The situational type will select "second-best" victims when under stress or distressed about their condition, and the preferential type doesn't normally experience much distress over their condition and is less affected by life stress. In other words, the situational type is more indiscriminate. The subtypes within this typology are presented after the following table:
|Situational Sex Offender||Preferential Sex Offender|
|1. Less intelligent
2. Lower socioeconomic status
3. Psychopathic behavior
4. Varied criminal behavior
5. Violent pornography
|1. More intelligent
2. Higher socioeconomic status
4. Focused criminal behavior
5. Theme pornography
(1) SITUATIONAL -- REGRESSED pedophile. This subtype leads the most stable life of the
situational types. They prefer female victims, and enjoy seducing strangers.
Oral and vaginal intercourse is their goal. They are likely to use child
pornography and may surf the Internet looking for victims, but will settle for
old ladies in nursing homes or just about any vulnerable group when there is a
crisis in their life. They tend to always keep a "stable" of potential victims
in various stages of seduction. They normally turn to children when distressed
or whenever they experience a blow to their self-esteem. (Note: in recent
years, Groth has said that the word "regressed" for this type is an obsolete
term since there is no real "psychological-regression-into-childhood"
phenomenon in the Freudian sense). Regressed offenders are the most common
type. They often "bounce back and forth" between normal sexual relationships
and criminal relations with children, they generally have some insecurity,
stress, or frustration relating to the demands of social skills in adult
relationships. Some are remorseful; others are not. Their sexual relationships
with children are part of an impulsive act underlying their inadequacies in
(2) SITUATIONAL -- INDISCRIMINATE pedophile. This subtype behaves like a wife-swapper, a charming, "cool" character who is willing to try anything, even incest, bestiality, you-name-it. This person waits a long time until they get to know you, and then they want to bring you into their "world." That world usually consists of child pornography and helping them obtain child victims, or any other vulnerable group, but they will soon make it clear they prefer children and are enlisting your help to assist them in deciding whether or not they want to lock into a certain age. The main source of new victims for pedophiles in general, however, is a referral, "snowball," or "hook-up" from people introduced to the perpetrator by old victims.
(3) SITUATIONAL -- IMMATURE (or FIXATED) pedophile. This subtype, also known as the naive pedophile, will appear to be "mental" or quite strange. They tend to stalk around their own neighborhood, and will usually not travel great distances to get new victims. Their preferred form of intercourse is anal or oral, but there are often times when they are completely happy just having fondled their victims. There are also times when they don't care what age their victim is. They tend to lead stressful lives, and their sexual preference for children has existed since adolescence. (Note: in recent years, Groth has said that the words "immature" or "fixated" for this type are obsolete terms). However, in Groth's own words, the fixated type suffers from a "temporary or permanent arrestment of psychosocial maturation resulting from unresolved formative issues that persist and underlie the organization of subsequent phases of development (Groth 1978: 6). This type of child molester is most likely the kind that is "sexually addicted" to having sex with children.
(4) PREFERENTIAL -- SEDUCTIVE pedophile. This subtype, also known as the "sex pressure" or "exploitative" type, will seduce or court their victims, often buying them gifts, flowers, toys, or loaning them money. As this person slowly becomes more intimate with the child, they begin to introduce sexual innuendo and eventually sexual pornography and paraphernalia. This type is almost always homosexual and prefers boys only. They operate on a referral network, and are somewhat likely to surf the Internet looking for stimulation and potential victims, although, they almost always seem to have a "stable" of victims in various stages of seduction. They go wherever a good pool of potential victims can be found.
(5) PREFERENTIAL -- SADISTIC pedophile. This subtype, also known as the "sex force" type, and sometimes called a "mysoped", stalks, abducts, has anal sex, mutilates the genitals, and in some cases, kills and cannibalizes their victim. They usually will travel great geographic distances to stalk just the right victim, and have an elaborate attack and abduction ploy worked out to sidetrack parents and authorities. This individual leads a rather transient existence, but is likely to have a fairly good-paying, white-collar job and a dependable vehicle.
The Burgess, Groth, and Holmstrom model (sometimes called Groth's second typology or the child molester typology) presents a simplified contrast between two types -- the SITUATIONAL and the PREFERENTIAL -- and although it has found widespread acceptance into common law enforcement practices today, one should be mindful that there might be other types, such as "latent" or "miscellaneous" offenders -- curious old men; ex-boyfriends; pranksters playing a dirty trick on somebody; and overzealous citizens carrying out their homemade investigation. For example, anyone claiming to be downloading child pornography for research or professional use had better have a darn good reason for it as well as proof they were using it professionally. It should be noted that federal law (18 U.S.C. Sec. 2252(c)) allows the "accidental" downloading of less than three items of child pornography but it must be promptly destroyed or reported.
The typology has been applied quite well to the detection of online crimes against children (Finkelhor, Mitchell & Wolak 2000) and the investigation of child pornography on the Internet (Jenkins 2001; Taylor & Quayle 2003). The subject of child prostitution has also been of police interest, but police task forces today often concentrate on establishing on-line relationships (and getting confessions) with cyberpredators, another type of sex criminal who is deserving of special criminological attention. Lanning (2012) attests that cyber-pedophiles are almost always of the preferential variety.
Cyberpredation is sometimes referred to as technophilia, a term coined by New Hampshire police detective Jim McLaughlin to refer to use of the computer to engage in meetings for sexual deviance involving children (McLaughlin 1998). Cyberstalking is another term used to describe predators who troll the Internet looking for youngsters to meet up and have sex with. NBC's Dateline To Catch a Predator is a TV show which outlines many of these behaviors. In McLaughlin's (1998) research, he discovered a distribution of entry-level offenders (called collectors), those who push toward a meeting (travelers), those who make child pornography and just happen to molest children (manufacturers), and those who just like to talk about sex with children (chatters). Important psychological insights can be gained from the study of cyberpredators using existing typologies.
Cyberpredators who Commit Internet Crimes Against Children
| There are two types of sexual cyberpredators.
First, there is the SITUATIONAL sexual cyberpredator. This person
does not have a true preference when it comes to a child as a sex
partner. The victim to this person is incidental, rather than
targeted. These offenders are less likely to have multiple child
victims in their past. Some seek child victims as a pattern of their
other violent behavior and others hunt for child victims for their
own sexual experimentation. A few of these individuals do progress
to become serial predators and are at times difficult to apprehend.
They minimize their exposure to the risk of getting caught, are
experienced in committing crimes, and have better control of their
emotions than some other criminals.
Secondly, there is PREFERENTIAL sexual cyberpredator. These people have a true preference for sexual contact with children, and usually have multiple victims in their lifetime. They go to great lengths to gain access to children (employment, volunteerism, marriage.) There are two types of preferential offenders: Sophisticated and Introverted. The sophisticated offender possesses the social skills necessary to relate to children and the introvert lacks confidence, patience, and ability to seduce or trick children. The preferential predator is highly motivated to commit child sex crimes and has a high recidivism rate. This type of person is a manipulator, who will use conversation, gifts, trick, and lures to secure victims. He/she uses sexual fantasies to focus on children and may engage in collecting, producing or trading child pornography. While the computer has a certain appeal to all internet predators of children, for the introvert, it supplies him/her with anonymity, security, and total privacy. He/she is in an unsupervised environment, has easy access to stored material, and the offense provides nearly instant gratification. Cyber crime investigators must understand that the computer is a tool that facilitates the predator’s interest in children. Investigators must understand that the offender is the target of the investigation and not the computer. The computer opens the door for these hunters to identify and locate potential victims anywhere in the world. It also gives them the opportunity to disguise their identities when communicating with children.
The FBI considers Internet crimes against children as its second most important priority behind terrorism. There are, indeed, quite a few cases handled by the criminal justice system every month, involving teachers and other authority figures in communities. One of the more interesting crime control methods used is a "shame-based" tactic or humiliation strategy, as in the way cities like St. Paul and Chicago post pictures on the Internet of "Johns" who have been caught soliciting prostitutes. Sex registries are, of course, another variety of this tactic, as are the "perp walks" given to some white collar crime offenders, or the stigmatizing of drunk drivers via special license plates or clothing as in some states. The idea of using publicity, shame, or humiliation as a crime control tactic raises some interesting legal and philosophical issues. Nussbaum (2006), for example, discusses the tactic as deriving from a communal sense of disgust (rather than anger), which can be argued to be an emotion which is not easily satiated or satisfied. From that viewpoint then, as well as from legal viewpoints which regard such things as violations of due process, there may be no long-term benefit from uses of such tactics. However, it is fairly orthodox in criminology that such "lightweight" offenders (for lack of a better term) are easily deterred by shame tactics; that is, if they have not severed their ties to society and become "hardened" offenders. On the other hand, much of what is known about sex offending involves its characteristic as a serial, repetitive crime, so therefore the question becomes how much shame is necessary to overcome this predeliction.
The "group" aspect of cyberpredation exists because this kind of crime involves a need for at least some attempt at establishing a social support network, but what research exists in criminology on this is limited to the study of sex rings which are more active than social support networks. Sex rings are arrangements in which at least one adult is involved sexually with several underage victims (Lanning & Burgess 1989), and sex rings exist for one or more of the following purposes:
production of pornography
molestation by adults in the group
sale or transportation of minors for sexual purposes
use of juveniles to recruit others into the ring
use of blackmail, deception, or threats to force children into sexual activity
A sex ring may involve bizarre or ritualistic activity, but most are about money. One of the largest was found in 1977 in Revere, Massachusetts involving 24 men (including psychologists and educators) and 63 boys where the boys were drugged and rented out to other men for 50 dollars a visit. Sex rings have also been discovered in day-care centers around the country. Taylor & Quayle (2003) report that the long-term impact of being a sex-ring participant is to act out sexually against others when the child grows up. Children who are participants in sex rings tend to have the same backgrounds as child prostitutes; i.e., from a dysfunctional family system, raised by only one parent, criminal tendencies in one or more parents, and a likelihood of sexual abuse (incest) in the family (Flowers 2001). Boys ("chickens") and girls ("hustlers") tend to have different reasons for going into prostitution, with "easy money" being a more significant factor for boys and self-esteem being a primary issue for girls. So-called "circuits" or bordellos exist across the nation's cities in which child prostitutes work, and travel between. Most child prostitutes are part-time, and Flowers (2001) identifies four types:
situational (prostitute only under certain circumstances)
habitual (full-time participants in street life)
vocational (consider prostitution a skilled profession)
avocational (self-made professionals, but not on a full-time basis)
The Massachusetts Treatment Center (mentioned earlier) also has a child molester typology (abbreviated MTC:CM3 for Child Molesters, Revision 3). With this typology, ten (10) types of molesters have been classified. The first group is classified on the basis of their fixation toward children, as follows:
Type 0: high fixation non-assertive -- long-standing preference for children and inability to bond with adults; rarely married but steadily employed; not particularly disturbed by their sexual preference for children
Type 1: high fixation assertive -- same as above, but higher self-esteem, more socially competent, and tends to have a better job
Type 2: low fixation non-assertive -- history of alcoholism, divorce, unemployment; and feelings of sexual inadequacy; victims nearly always female; feels remorse afterwards
Type 3: low fixation assertive -- better self-esteem than above; uses no more force than is necessary to gain compliance; may frighten, but will never harm the child so no need to feel remorse
A second group of child molesters are classified on the basis of whether or not the offender actively seeks out contact with children, and there are other targeting or behavior patterns, as follows:
Type 1: interpersonal -- targets acquaintances
Type 2: narcissistic -- targets strangers
Type 3: exploitative nonsadistic -- charming type
Type 4: symbolic sadistic -- likes to frighten children
Type 5: aggressive -- angry type
Type 6: sadistic -- uncaring, serial killer type
SEXUAL ABUSE BY CLERGY AND PEOPLE IN AUTHORITY
No typologies have yet been developed by researchers regarding the types of offenders found in the clergy. This parallels the absence of knowledge about other occupational groups often suspected of having some relative proportion of child molesters, such as businessmen, educators, coaches, judges, day care center employees, and social service workers and volunteers. Nonetheless, the church (particularly the Catholic Church) has attracted intense attention and publicity starting at least in the year 1993 when magazines like Newsweek started running major stories. However, the first well-known Catholic Church sex scandal happened ten years earlier, and Berry (2000), for example, highlights concerns about Sex in the Church by a number of priests during the 1980s. Crosson-Tower (2005) as well as others have covered contemporary developments, and are working toward typologies or theories.
It is apparent that the opportunity to be in contact with youth as a respected member of some profession is probably high on the wish list of a pedophile's priorities. It may be also obvious that pedophiles seek out such occupations where there is not a high degree of professional self-monitoring. This may be the case with what happened in the Catholic Church, and even after the scandal peaked, when policies to rectify the situation were kept under lock and key. Meanwhile, during the 1993-2002 scandal years, Methodists and Baptists conducted surveys of their congregation to assess the extent of the problem; the Presbyterians ran background checks on pastors; the Unitarians set up a complaint process; and the Evangelical Lutherans created a formal disciplinary process. The encumbered hierarchy of the Catholic Church is what enabled reports of clergy misconduct to be lost.
Several questions arise about clergy sexual abuse. One, it has been argued that as many as 57% of clergy may NOT have passed through all the normal developmental stages for healthy adulthood (Bruni & Burkett 2002). This is because people seeking to enter the clergy usually make such decisions at an early age, and as a result of preparing themselves for such work, deny themselves the opportunities to experience the "normal" things that adolescents go through, such as experimentation with identity and a variety of interpersonal relationships. Two, it has been argued that celibacy is a contributor to child abuse (Kennedy 2003), but there is no evidence to support this other than conjecture about the impact of lonliness. SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) has been in the forefront of documenting the legal and psychological impact of the scandal. Terry (2012) summarizes some of the diverse literature on sexual abuse in various contexts, and the following figures can be extrapolated from her review regarding the estimated percentages of how often sexual abuse takes place in those contexts:
1. Catholic churches - 39%
2. Jewish synagogues - 26%
3. Prisons - 25%
4. Protestant Churches - 10%
5. Military services - 9%
6. Schools - 7%
7. Athletic organizations - 6%
8. Daycare centers - 5%
9. Boy Scouts - 5%
10. Big Brothers/Big Sisters - 3%
WHAT IS LEAST KNOWN ABOUT SEX OFFENDERS
Given the many gaps in knowledge, the many controversies and debates, and distinct "research areas" which, for lack of a better term, have hit a "dead end, " it's no wonder that there is much more we would like to know about sex offenders. These can probably be presented as a list, and surely there are researchers somewhere who are continuing work in these directions. The list of areas where knowledge is most incomplete, unclear, or complicated includes the following:
(1) whether sexual VICTIMIZATION as a child leads to becoming an offender as an adult -- While it is true that some sex offenders (estimates range from 12% to 56%) got their "start" or introduction to the world of child molesting by being molested themselves at an early age, there is no scientific "proof" that one is the cause of the other. Many children who were sexually abused grow up to be normal adults, and it is important to note that there is no "determinism" in this regard, since fear of such destiny is frequently a symptom of the abuse. There are indeed long-term symptoms of childhood sexual abuse which "mimic" some of the personality traits found in adult child molesters, but that doesn't mean they turn out to be molesters themselves. Such symptoms include promiscuity, a lack of empathy toward others, trouble recognizing appropriate sexual cues, and difficulty understanding the perspective of others.
(2) the prevalence of FEMALES as offenders -- This may very well be a significant under-reported or disguised crime, and not only do we not know how much of it is going on, we do not know much about the motivations or behaviors. Society as a whole seems to be disbelieving about it going on, but there has been anecdotal evidence and "Nanny-cam" evidence in recent years suggesting that it happens primarily in babysitting or child care contexts. It would also seem that with the crime of incest, there is room for the study of female perpetrators who prey upon their male siblings or relatives, but sadly, little to no research is being done on this. It might be the case that all our typologies and hunches about the motivations of sex offenders suffer from a male bias, and likewise, an ETHNOCENTRIC bias, because we haven't studied enough of the phenomena cross-culturally, the exception being research like Bhugra (2007) where some support is found for cross-cultural similarities between the standard DSM paraphilias and little support for so-called "exotic" culture-bound disorders like amok, ataque de nervios, and koro, regardless of whether the foreign culture is classified by the usual categories of sex-positive or sex-negative as long as there is a certain degree of socio-centrism or egocentrism in such a culture.
(3) the assessment of specific preferences or patterns of AROUSAL -- Given that so many different objects of sexual preference exist, and that so many different fetishes are possible, the problem becomes one of how to exactly determine what is the "favorite" or preferred sexual activity of a sex offender. Some lock into certain age groups and/or certain victims, but others are fairly indiscriminating in who or what they choose as a target. For many years, it was believed that the one sure way to assess this was with phallometry, a method which involves putting a blood pressure monitor on the penis and showing the subject various stimuli to find out what kind of stimuli aroused them the most. To be sure, there are still advocates of this approach (Quinsey et al. 1995; Schlank & Cohen 2001), but the research findings are far from conclusive, and the law generally takes the view that such procedures are demeaning and an invasion of privacy.
(4) the PREDICTION of recidivism, or repeat offending -- Being a heterogeneous group, sex offenders recidivate at different rates, and although their average rate is somewhat high (estimates range from 10% to 66% with 15% being the most popular number based on reconviction rates), perhaps we are not measuring recidivism the right way, or we are basically unable to "predict" re-offending using any known assessment methods. With paper-and-pencil psychological tests, most efforts at prediction tend to make use of the "lying," defensiveness, or social desirability subscales which have limited value. Criminal justice assessment instruments tend to utilize many "risk" and "need" factors which are irrelevant to the special population of sex offenders. Clinical psychology interviewing seems bogged down in the business of diagnosing denial. The truth is we have no valid and reliable prediction instruments, just instruments which mainly assess risk by assigning points on known prior offenses (van Dam 2005), and this includes the RRASOR (Rapid Risk Assessment for Sexual Offense Recidivism) and the Minnesota Child Molester Screening Tool-Revised. It is not uncommon for this area of research to use instruments designed to measure the proclivity toward criminal behavior in general. A related problem is how to get families and communities to become vigilant and aware of the "warning signs" that what van Dam (2005) calls "Groomers" use to ingratiate or endear themselves to communities in preparation for their planned child molesting.
(5) the TREATMENT of sex offenders -- Some 40% of sex offenders wind up in jail or prison where, if they are lucky, get some kind of correctional treatment, and out of an entire prison population, anywhere from 20% to 30% of prison beds are filled with convicted child molesters (van Dam 2005). Another 40% get some kind of outpatient counseling, usually as a condition of probation. Very few people walk-in for treatment, and as a group, sex offenders are highly resistant to treatment (so highly resistant that due to treatment difficulties, many clinicians refer to them as incurable). However, it may not be that they are "incurable" because it may very well be that we just don't have good enough treatment programs. Numerous articles can be found in the literature saying that "nothing works" (Furby et. al. 1989; Gallagher et. al. 1999), but something has to at least be "promising" (Flora 2001). So-called talk therapy doesn't work, and insight-oriented approaches don't work. What does seem promising are cognitive, cognitive-behavioral, and rational-emotive approaches where the offender gets a lot of homework and is graded on how well they learn assertiveness skills, delayed gratification values, and how to avoid thinking errors (Bartol & Bartol 2004).
REHABILITATION OF SEX OFFENDERS
One of the consistencies one is likely to find in the
literature of "what works" when it comes to the rehabilitation of sex offenders
is that rehabilitation of sex offenders is still in its infancy (early stages of
research) and has yet to develop a proven method or theory that works for all
situations. Using information obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of
Corrections on Sex Offender Treatment (March 2004), this report outlines the
major treatment approaches in use today. Those treatment approaches include:
cognitive distortions, victim empathy, social functioning and relationship
issues, deviant sexual preferences, and relapse prevention.
Cognitive distortion treatment addresses the “attitudes, beliefs, and
perceptions that encourage deviant sexual behavior.” It has some promising uses
in substance abuse counseling as well. Victim empathy
treatment is also promising, and attempts to sensitize the offender
to the victim’s pain as a result of the crime. Social function and
relationship treatment sometimes works to build the offender’s relationship
skills and self-confidence. Deviant sexual preference treatment works to
substitute and eliminate deviant sexual drives with appropriate or moral sexual
drives. The last approach of relapse prevention works to reduce those
daily situations that may again encourage the deviant sexual behavior or
When designing sex offender treatment programs, it is important to keep several principles in mind. The first principle recognizes that sex offenders are a diverse group of characters, which may require individualized treatment. Otherwise treatment for one character may not be appropriate for another. The second principle recognizes the need for a careful risk-assessment of sex offenders. Offenders needs to be placed into a category that classifies their level of risk to re-offend, which will then help to assess the level of treatment for a particular offender. The third principle suggests that institutionally based programs need to incorporate follow-up programs. The fourth principle highly stresses the importance the sexual offenders continued participation in the treatment program. This principle suggests that a complete cure for the problem may never actually occur, so continuous treatment may be necessary for the remainder of the offender’s lifespan. A fifth principle has also been suggested, which aims to have the offender admit his or her offense. Some research suggests that denial of the crime justifies or reduces the magnitude of the crime in the mind of the sexual offender, therefore, through complete and total acceptance the offender takes responsibility and further understands the nature of the crime.
Medications such as Depo-Provera -- which is commonly prescribed for prostate cancer -- lower testosterone and libido levels and are being tested as effective “chemical-castration” treatments, and some say cures, to pedophilia. However, treatment is not always as simple as taking a pill. Many pedophiles and sex offenders have more than one diagnosis -- they often have substance-abuse disorders, impulse-control disorders, or personality disorders. Treatment, therefore, is notoriously complicated and difficult.
TRENDS IN SEX-RELATED OFFENDING
The sex-related offense rate has been consistently stable for decades. Sex-related offending, geographically, tends to be higher in the Northeastern and Western states. Sex-related offenses are higher in urban areas than rural areas. Except for prostitution, males comprise 90% of all public order offenders. Except for driving while intoxicated (predominately committed by whites), African Americans account for slightly more than half of public order offenders. The peak age for a sex offender is age 33 (Miethe & McCorkle 1998).
The forms of sex offending can be various, but the most common patterns involve prostitution, deviant sex (paraphilias), precocious sex (underage sex), homosexuality, and pornography. Sexual pleasures contain a undeniable forbidden fruit factor, enhanced by the fact that many interests, predilections, preferences, and compulsions are moralized or criminalized. Prostitution (also known as sex work, the game, or the life) can be straight or gay, male or female, traditional or deviant. The vast majority of prostitutes (90%) are twenty- or thirty-something females, providing straight traditional sex (fellatio, coitus) by working in streets (20%), massage parlors (25%), brothels (15%), bars (15%), hotels (10%), or as call girls (15%). Male prostitutes (chicken hawks) are usually homosexual, extremely younger (age 14-15) than females, and there are some 10,000 of them in New York City alone. There are an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 full time prostitutes in America working an average of seven days straight with a week or two off in-between. Some 90,000 arrests for prostitution are made every year, with about 1200 of these arrests being minor females under the age of 18 (some as young as age 9). Slightly less than half of all prostitutes have pimps who serve as managers that expect $1500 per day from each of the 5-7 workers in his "stable", but most prostitutes have a "man" (husband or lover) who is always close by, shares in the proceeds, and provides individual protection. Pimps are the ones who usually recruit newcomers into the life. Johns, or customers, are arrested at a lesser rate than prostitutes, and generally consist of men with emotional problems. Like most criminal careers, age at onset (precocious sex at an early age) is the best predictor of seriousness and persistence, and almost all sex offenders have been sexually active as early as age 8 (although some pedophiles regard "eight as too late"). It is an axiom in criminal justice work that where you find prostitutes, you'll find all sorts of other crime.
The paraphilias are not so much oriented toward sex (homosexual or heterosexual) as they are to the stimulation one receives from contact with youthfulness (pedophilia), certain nonhuman objects (fetishism), humiliation or pain (sadomasochism), and watching (voyeurism) or being watched (exhibitionism). One can argue that certain fetishes serve as springboards to more serious criminal involvement. Pedophilia is probably the most studied paraphilia in criminology, and some research has indicated more than 20% of adult males report sexual attraction to children (Smiljanich & Briere 1996). Like for many sex offenses, alcohol plays two well-established disinhibition roles: getting the courage up, and drowning the shame. It has been estimated that there are some 100,000 child prostitutes working in America.
Homosexuality is the world's oldest deviance, but tolerance and constitutional protections have been gained in recent years. Homosexuals, like most minority groups, suffer the pains of stigma and stereotype for the faults of a few members. Their overall culture of secrecy (closet homosexuality) probably creates more problems than it's worth, however. It sets up a situation for blackmail and a marketplace atmosphere of clubs and parks where anonymity breeds abuse. Other contributions of homosexuality to crime have been documented elsewhere (Russo & Humphreys 1983). Ironically, homosexuality effectively functions as an attractor to crime against it (gay-bashing) in what criminologists call derivative deviance (Harry 1982).
Pornography is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that controls about 30% of entertainment markets. Extensive controversy exists over whether pornography causes crime. Some criminologists (van den Haag 1969) and at least one blue-ribbon task force (Meese Commission 1986) have found it a direct cause of violence against women. Other research (Donnerstein et. al. 1987) has found it depends heavily upon duration of exposure, and does not cause predispositions, but strengthens already pre-existing predispositions. Nobody disputes the dangers of child pornography, however. Studies by Burgess et. al (1984) have exposed at least three types of sex rings (solo, impromptu, syndicated) and uncovered a pattern of serious adult criminality (arson and violence) among children exploited in pornography.
The connections between sex and crime can be looked at two ways. Sex can either be seen as a cause of crime, or sexual offending can be seen as being caused by some other crime. Most essays on the subject never get past the first way of looking at it, and include the usual triad of broken home factors (absent father, sexual or physical abuse; runaway) that lead someone to become a sexual offender later in life. This generally leads to a portrayal of the offender as a victim, not a victimizer (MacNamara & Karmen 1983). It is a perfectly acceptable approach in victimology to regard the offender as a victim of society also because a "societal harm" approach is being taken toward the origin and nature of the whole social problem. Sometimes, it's a bit of a stretch, but looking at it from a harm-based, larger perspective is sometimes useful for theoretical purposes, or more criminologically in sorting out the ways sex offenders commit other harms (e.g., the logical, temporal sequence that eliminates unknowns). Here's a list of some of those harms (Sternberg 1983):
sex offenders often rob, steal, or swindle their customers
sex offenders frequently try to extort or blackmail their customers
sex offenders often illegal carry weapons (to protect themselves)
sex offenders are frequently involved in drug abuse or alcoholism
sex offenders contribute to the transmission of venereal disease
sex offenders sometimes beat, torture, or kill their customers
sex offenders exploit vulnerable, emotionally disturbed customers
sex offenders help deplete family incomes
sex offenders contribute to shallow family relationships
sex offenders cause incredible anguish within their own families
sex offenders contribute to relative deprivation (something for nothing)
sex offenders sometimes assault other sex offenders (out of competition)
sex offenders make it uncomfortable for traditional people to walk the street
sex offenders expose neighborhood children to deviant lifestyles
sex offenders contribute to noise pollution and traffic problems (cruising johns)
sex offenders demoralize the work ethic
sex offenders undermine the cause of gender equality
To some extent, stalking can be considered as a crime falling into the sex-related, public harm-related category. Many sex offenders stalk their victims. So do serial killers. But besides these tactical similarities, there are many vexing aspects of stalking that are little understood. It is perhaps the most forgotten crime, and with few exceptions (Meloy 1998; Petherick 2006; Spitzberg et al. 2012), it is hard to find good, quality research or theory on it, especially of the serial stalking type. Romantic intentions tend to predominate in about 87% of all stalking incidents, where the stalker is engaging in (their mind) a courting or dating ritual. At other times, it involves an end-of-relationship situation with an ex-spouse, ex-partner, or ex-date. The typical pattern is that they follow their victims, spy on them, appear near their home, place of work, or place of recreation. About 50% of the time, the stalker will initiate a letter-writing campaign, a telephone-calling spree, or some other form of communication. Repetitive communication (via e-mail) is a hallmark of that offense variety known as cyber-stalking. This kind of stalking may be due to a variety of motivations, and to signal distress or a vendetta may be much more common than romantic obsession. Some other forms of computer crime may produce a kind of "sexual" excitement, but if Katz (1988) is right, all crime has a sexually seductive nature.
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Survivors of Incest Anonymous
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Treatment of Sexually Aggressive Behavior from a Theological Viewpoint
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Last updated: Oct. 18, 2012
Not an official webpage of APSU, copyright restrictions apply, see Megalinks in Criminal Justice
O'Connor, T. (2012). "Sex Offenders," MegaLinks in Criminal Justice. Retrieved from http://www.drtomoconnor.com/3220/3220lect04.htm.