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Analysis of Federally Prosecuted CSEC Cases since the Passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2008
163 pages

This national analysis of Federal prosecutions of cases that involved the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth (CSEC) focused on whether existing laws related to CSEC are being enforced, the key features of successful CSEC cases, the factors that predict convictions, the factors that predict sentence length, whether U.S. courts have increased penalties for sexual crimes against children, and the effects of CSEC legislation on service providers who work with these victims.


The study found that at the Federal level, CSEC-related laws are being enforced. The total number of suspects in criminal matters investigated and concluded by U.S. attorneys nationally more than doubled from 1998 to 2005. Factors important in predicting convictions were filing after the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (TVPA); investigation conducted by U.S. Customs rather than the FBI; longer case processing time; the involvement of only one defendant rather than codefendants; and being a child pornography case rather than child prostitution or child sexual exploitation. Convictions were also more likely if the case was filed in the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh circuits. Longer prison sentences were associated with offenders who went to trial rather than pled guilty; non-white offenders; offenders with low education levels (high school or below); offenders charged with child exploitation; offenders with higher guidelines for offense seriousness and criminal history categories; and offenders sentenced in the sixth circuit. Laws related to CSEC passed since 2000 increased penalties associated with CSEC-related offenses, and prosecutors are using these laws in obtaining harsher punishments. The effects of CSEC legislation on service providers who work with these victims has been to make it difficult to secure social services for victims who are U.S. citizens, since the focus of the legislation has been on victims from other countries who do not have status in the United States. 3 exhibits, 25 figures, and 11 appendixes that include a literature review, references, study instrument and methods, and supplementary tables

Date Published: February 1, 2008