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Comparing Routes of Reporting in Elder Sexual Abuse Cases

NCJ Number
Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect Volume: 20 Issue: 4 Dated: 2008 Pages: 336-352
Date Published
17 pages

This study analyzed the characteristics of 284 elderly individuals (age 60 and older) suspected of being sexually abused, as well as the characteristics of suspected offenders; the nature of the abuse; and differences in cases reported to adult protective services (APS) and the criminal justice system (CJS).


The suspected victims were mostly females (93.5 percent) and ranged in age from 60 to 100. Of the 181 elders for whom racial data were available, 82.3 percent were Caucasian, and the remainder were minorities. Of the 250 cases with data on location of the alleged abuse, most occurred in private homes. One-third of the cases were reported by the elders themselves, and health professionals filed 20.6 percent of the reports; 12.2 percent of the reports were from social workers or mental health staff; 12.2 percent were filed by family members; and 21.8 percent were filed by others. In almost half of the cases (43.3 percent), the most common method of control of the victim was the mere presence of the offender. In the 230 cases with data on the alleged offender, they were overwhelmingly male (90.9 percent) and ranged in age from 13 to 90. Suspects were strangers to the victims in 26.1 percent of the cases, and alleged incestuous abuse accounted for 23.2 percent of the cases. The offender was a spouse or partner in 15.5 percent of the cases. An unrelated care provider was the suspect in 10.9 percent of the cases. The direct contact alleged acts included sexualized kissing; fondling of breast and genitals; and penetration of vagina, mouth, or anus. Noncontact acts included exhibitionism, unwelcome sexual discussions, and sexual jokes or comments. Approximately equal numbers of cases were reported to APS and the CJS, with those referred to the CJS usually being stranger to the victim. 28 references

Date Published: January 1, 2008