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Sex Offenders Who Are They & Can We Predict if They Will Reoffend. Anna C. Salter, Ph.D. Agenda. Types & Motivations of Sex Offenders How They Get Access to Kids Risk Assessment: Predicting Recidivism Impact of Treatment Vs. Sanctions . Child Molesters. Why Do Some Men Molest Children?.

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Presentation Transcript
  • Types & Motivations of Sex Offenders
  • How They Get Access to Kids
  • Risk Assessment: Predicting Recidivism
  • Impact of Treatment Vs. Sanctions
child molesters
Child Molesters

Why Do Some Men Molest Children?

1 deviant arousal pattern
1. Deviant Arousal Pattern

Sexually attracted to children

Otherwise responsible

E.g., teachers, priests, youth leaders, doctors, businessmen, etc.

successful predators
Successful Predators


Responsible in Other Ways

Do Favors

Genial, Affable, Likeable

sexually attracted to children
Sexually Attracted to Children

Q. “How old were you when you began to have fantasies about children?

A. About 13 or 14

Q. How often would you say during masturbation you had sexual fantasies involving children?

A. All the time.”

sexually attracted to children7
Sexually Attracted to Children

Q. How much of the time do you fantasize about boys?’’

A. I’d say about half the day. It’s when I’m not doing anything.”

minister who molested grandchildren
Minister Who Molested Grandchildren

“I suppose that being a devout religious person, if I had believed with all of my mind and heart that the earth was going to open up and swallow me into hell, I would have went ahead and done it anyway.”

“People often confuse issues of traits of character with issues of . . . the type of sexual interest an individual has.

Persons who may be compulsive pedophiles, for instance, may obey the law in other ways, may be responsible in their work, may have concern for other persons.”

(Berlin, quoted in Knopp, 1984, p. 9)

2 antisocial motivation
2. Antisocial Motivation


Variety of other crimes

Want sex; violate anybody’s rights

“I plain and simple needed to get some good, hot, kinky sex but resented having to rely on the generosity of women. . . My days of begging . . . Were over.”

(Athens, 1997, p. 10)


“The way she moved made my rocks shake. I had to have her. So I pretended to look for my dog. . . She was polite but bitchy, you know. . . She goes, yea like get lost. Now I don’t give a f. . ., you know. I reach for her neck. F. . . you, I goes and drag her inside the f. . . shed.”

(Stevens, 2001, p. 40)

3 loneliness
3. Loneliness

Relate poorly to adults

Intimidated by women

Children accepting, nonjudgmental,


4 incest offenders
4. Incest Offenders

Deviant Arousal Pattern Some

Antisocial Some

Victims of Opportunity Yes

Entitled Yes

incest offender
Incest Offender

“I had it in my head that she’s not just a girl, but she’s mine and always will be mine.”

(Gilgun & Connor, 1989, p. 250)

incest offender16
Incest Offender

“My home is my castle, and I’ll do what I goddamn please.”

child molesters17
Child Molesters

1. Deviant Arousal Pattern

2. Anti-social Attitudes & Beliefs

(Includes Psychopaths)

3. Emotional Loneliness

4. Incest Offenders

thinking errors of nonsadistic sex offenders
Thinking Errors of Nonsadistic Sex Offenders
  • She wanted me to do those things to her.
  • She enjoyed it as much as I did.
  • She was just a little flirt.
  • He knew what he was doing.
  • He came on to me.
5 sadists
5. Sadists

Sexually Aroused


Pain, Suffering, Terror and Humiliation

sadistic behavior

Sadistic Behavior

A man shot off a teenage girl’s arm for the sexual thrill it gave him.

( Abel, 1981)

sadistic behavior21

Sadistic Behavior

A serial killer would smother his wife with a plastic bag until she passed out and then would have sex. He beat her with belts and burned her with cigarettes.

(Groth, 1979, p. 48)

sadistic behavior22

Sadistic Behavior

A rapist of thirteen-year girls preferred to anally rape them on cement floors so that the rapes would be more painful.

(Abel, 1977)


“At no point during the incident was I aware of any anger towards the victim, although I now recognize a resentment or jealousy of girls.”

( Groth, 1979)

sadistic offenders
Sadistic Offenders

5% of sex offenders

6 status offenders
6. Status Offenders

18 year-old with 15-year-old girlfriend

status offenders
Status Offenders
  • No violence or threats
  • No conning or manipulation
  • Girlfriend within 3 years of age
  • No pattern of dating younger girls
typology of rapists
Typology of Rapists
  • Opportunistic
  • Pervasively Angry
  • Vindictive
  • Sexual



(Knight, 1990)



Ministry and Priesthood



Camp Counselors

Children’s Choirs

Any Jobs with Children

leisure activities
Leisure Activities




Dating Child’s Mother

Boy Scouts, etc.

Special Olympics

Local Church Choirs

Youth Groups

Any Volunteer Activities InvolvingChildren

legislative history of residence restrictions
Legislative History of Residence Restrictions
  • In 2004, 14 states had residence restrictions, most commonly 500 – 1000 feet.
  • By 2006, 21 states had residence restrictions
  • Hundreds of local jurisdictions nationwide have passed zoning laws, often 2500 feet (about one-half mile).
does proximity to schools increase recidivism
Does proximity to schools increase recidivism?

N = 130


Recidivists & Nonrecidivists

Scattered Geographically

Recidivists Lived No Closer to Schools that Non-recidivists

offenders living closer to a school
Offenders Living Closer to a School

Were Not More Likely to Reoffend

does proximity to schools increase recidivism38
Does proximity to schools increase recidivism?

N = 329

Minnesota 2003

High Risk Offenders

Follow-up 3 – 6 Years

13 Recidivists

  • None of the offenses occurred in or near schools.
  • 2 offenses in parks: Offenders drove there
does proximity to schools increase recidivism39
Does proximity to schools increase recidivism?


April 2007

N = 224 sexual recidivists

Released between 1990 and 2002

“Not one of the 224 sex offenses would likely have been deterred by a residency restrictions law.”

“It doesn’t matter where a sex offender lives if he sets his mind on reoffending… he can just get closer by walking or driving.”

N = 109

Fort Lauderdale, FL

2,500-foot zoning laws.

Live farther away from social services &

mental health treatment 40%

Live farther away from employment 57%

Live farther away from family support 62%

Average number of days spent homeless

or staying with someone 62

Levenson (2006), in progress.

  • Unemployed
  • Without social services
  • Without mental health treatment
  • Without family support

Less or more likely to reoffend?


“Sex offenders with positive support systems

reoffended and violated . . . their probation

less often than those who had negative or no support .”

(Colorado Department of Public Safety, 2004).


Sex offenders with stable employment and social relationships had

lower recidivism rates

than those without jobs or significant others

(Kruttschnitt et al., 2000).

  • 2000-foot exclusion zone passed in 2002.
  • Upheld by Iowa Supreme Court and 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (2005)
impact in iowa
Impact in Iowa
  • Within six months, the number of sex offenders across the state whose whereabouts were unknown nearly tripled

(Davey, 2006; Rood, 2006).

impact in iowa47
Impact in Iowa
  • Approximately 6,000 sex offenders and their families were displaced by the law, and many reported becoming homeless

(Rood, 2006).

iowa county attorneys assn 2006
Iowa County Attorneys Assn (2006)

as more sex offenders become homeless and transient, law enforcement authorities are less able to monitor their day-to-day activities

(Iowa County Attorneys Association, 2006)

victims groups oppose residence restrictions
Victims groups oppose residence restrictions
  • National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

“Sex offenders who continually move or become homeless as a result of residency restrictions are more difficult to supervise and monitor, thereby increasing the risk of re-offense….”

national alliance to end sexual violence
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
  • “Because residency requirements cause instability, which may increase the risk of re-offense, NAESV opposes residency restrictions. ”
victims groups oppose residence restrictions51
Victims groups oppose residence restrictions
  • California Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Warned against

“a general migration of sex offenders to rural communities who simply cannot monitor them, while on the other hand, the remainder of offenders in urban areas will simply go underground, failing to register.”

risk assessment
Risk Assessment

Can we tell

Who is likely to reoffend?

hanson meta analysis recidivism
Hanson Meta-Analysis Recidivism

Follow-up = 5-6 Years

  • New Sex Offense 13.7%
  • Any Offense 36.9%

(Hanson & Morton-Bourgon, 2004)

long term sex offense recidivism
Long Term Sex Offense Recidivism

Follow-up = 15 to 30 Years

  • New Sex or Violent Offense 42%

(Hanson, Steffy et al., 1993)


Follow-up = 25 Years


Rapists 136 39%

Child Molesters 115 52%

(Prentky et al., 1997)

long term sex offense recidivism58
Long Term Sex Offense Recidivism

Prior Sex Offenses

Boy Victims

Never Married


(Hanson, Steffy et al., 1993)

clinical vs actuarial assessment
Clinical vs. Actuarial Assessment


Clinical Assessment .10

Actuarial Assessment .46

(Hanson & Bussiere, 1998)

continuum of risk
Continuum of Risk

Low Risk High Risk

continuum of risk62
Continuum of Risk

Low Risk High Risk

7% - 12%

51% - 62%

known offenses vs reconviction
Known Offenses Vs Reconviction

Study Arrests

Doren (1998) 27%-47% +

Song & Lieb (1995) 50% +

known sexual assaults vs criminal charges
Known Sexual Assaults Vs. Criminal Charges

2.4 times

(Marshall et al., 1990)

known offenses vs caught recidivism
Known Offenses Vs Caught Recidivism

5 years Follow-Up

Caught Average Marshall

13% 17% - 19% 31%

rrasor scores recidivism rates
RRASORScores & Recidivism Rates

Score 5 Years 10 Years

0 4.4 6.5

5 49.8 73.1

(Hanson, 1997)

most offenses by high risk offenders
Most Offenses by High Risk Offenders

70% Offenses by 5% of Offenders

(Gene Abel)

juvenile crime
Juvenile Crime

Offenders Crimes

8% 70%

(Beuhring, 2002; Howell, 1995; Kelley et al., 1997)

number of adjudications recidivism
Number of Adjudications & Recidivism

Adolescent Sex Offenders

3 year Follow-Up

No. N Sex Recidivism

1 452 6.2%

2 118 26.3%

3 37 35.1%

4 + 29 41.4

(Epperson, 2005)

rapid risk assessment for sexual offense recidivism
Rapid Risk Assessment for Sexual Offense Recidivism
  • Prior Sexual Offense
  • Victim Gender
  • Relationship to Victim
  • Age at Release

(Hanson, 1997)

  • Prior Sexual Offenses

None 0

1 Conviction; 1 to 2 Charges 1

2 - 3 Convictions: 3 to 5 Charges 2

4 or More; 6 or More Charges 3

(Hanson, 1997)

  • Age at Release

25+ 0

25- 1

Victim Gender

Only Females 0

Any Males 1

  • Relationship to Victim

Only Related 0

Any Non-Related 1

(Hanson, 1997)


Score 5 Years 10 Years

0 4.4 6.5

1 7.6 11.2

2 14.2 21.1

3 24.8 36.9

4 32.7 48.6

5 49.8 73.1

(Hanson, 1997)


Score 5 Years 10 Years

0 4.4 6.5

5 49.8 73.1

(Hanson, 1997)


RRASOR items

  • Number of Previous Charges & Convictions
  • Age at Release
  • Relationship to Victim
  • Boy Victims
  • Number of Sentencing Occasions
  • Index Non-sexual Violence
  • Previous Non-sexual Violence
  • Ever Lived with a Partner 2 Years
  • Non-Contact Sex Offense Conviction
  • Stranger Victims
scores versus recidivism
Scores Versus Recidivism

Score Risk N(%) 15 Years

0,1 Low 257(24%) 10%

2,3 Med/Low 410 (38%) 18%

4,5 Med/High 290 (27%) 38%

6+ High 129 (12%) 52%

what do they measure
What do They Measure?
  • Likelihood of reoffending?
  • Severity of reoffending?
  • Timing of reoffending?
  • Circumstances fostering reoffending?
who is more dangerous
Who is More Dangerous?
  • Exhibitionism 90%
  • Child Molestation 30%
  • Killing a Child 20%
characteristics of studies
Characteristics of Studies

117 Studies

N = 442,471

(Smith, 2002)

impact of incarceration on recidivism
Impact of Incarceration on Recidivism

N = 268,806

68% American Studies

No Change in Recidivism

or Slight Increase in Recidivism

(Smith, 2002)

high quality vs low quality studies
High Quality vs. Low Quality Studies

High Quality

  • Random Assignment
  • Comparison Group Designs


Criminal History

Antisocial Values

(Smith, 2002)

random assignment studies
Random Assignment Studies

2 Studies

Incarceration Vs Community

Slight increases in recidivism

(Smith, 2002)

incarceration more or less
Incarceration: More or Less

N = 107,165

90% American Studies

Mean Time for More: 31 Months

Mean Time for Less: 13 Months

Slight Increase in Recidivism

(Smith, 2002)

impact of length of incarceration
Impact of Length of Incarceration

Difference in Time Mean Effect Size

Between More & Less (Weighted for Sample

Groups Size)

  • < 6 Months -.01
  • 7 to 12 Months -.02
  • 13 to 24 Months .03
  • > 24 Months .06

(Smith, 2002)

atsa collaborative study
ATSA Collaborative Study

N = 43 studies

  • All treated between 1965 – 1999
  • 80% treated after 1980
  • 9,316 subjects
  • 23 Institutional programs
  • 16 Community programs
  • 3 both
atsa collaborative study follow up periods
ATSA Collaborative StudyFollow-up Periods
  • Range 1 month to 31 years
  • Median 46 months
  • Reconviction 8
  • Rearrest 11
  • Broad 20
hanson meta analysis recidivism94
Hanson Meta-Analysis Recidivism

Follow-up = 4 - 5 Years

  • New Sex Offense 13%
  • Any Offense 37%

(Hanson & Bussiere, 1996)

current vs noncurrent
Current vs Noncurrent
  • Current means 1) Treatment still offered in 1999

2) All Cognitive Behavioral since


  • Noncurrent had no impact on sexual or general


when does treatment work
When Does Treatment Work?
  • Adults vs adolescents Equally effective
  • Institutional vs Community Equally effective