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Comparison of Criminal Sexual Conduct Defendants Based on Victim Age

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 52 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 1372-1375
Ernest Poortinga M.D., M.S.; Craig Lemmen M.D.; Karl Majeske Ph.D.
Date Published
November 2007
4 pages
This study compared the demographic and psychiatric characteristics of defendants charged with criminal sexual conduct against victims under 6 years old with those of defendants charged with criminal sexual conduct against victims 12 years old or older.
Controlling for other demographic and psychiatric variables, elderly defendants (60 years old or older) were three times more likely to victimize children under 6 years old than were younger defendants. Also, defendants who were related to their victims were three times more likely to have victims under 6 years old than defendants who victimized a nonfamily member. Defendants with serious psychiatric diagnoses, such as psychosis or bipolar disorder, were not significantly more likely to have younger victims compared with defendants without a serious psychiatric diagnosis. The trend for older defendants to have younger, weaker victims was consistent with previous research; however, the finding that defendants with a history of psychosis were less likely to victimize younger children contrasted with the findings of previous research, which found that men who abused prepubescent victims had more psychopathology than men with older victims. The subjects of the current study were 163 men referred to the evaluation unit of a State center for forensic psychiatry. Thirty-eight men had victims under 6 years old, and 125 men had victims 12 years old or older. Defendants were classified on sociodemographic factors such as age, race, and highest attained education. Psychiatric diagnoses were assigned according to DSM-IV criteria determined from evaluation letters sent to the court, police reports, and prior medical records. 3 tables and 22 references