Category Archives: Rape

Power, Anger, and Sadistic Rapists and other articles in the latest issue of International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology

fearThe August 2008 issue of International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology (Vol. 52, No. 4) is out, and contains (as usual) an interesting range of articles.

Here’s one that will be of particlar interest to those interested in psychological profiling of offenders – the theory that particular types of offending behaviour may be associated with particular personality traits. In discussing a Differentiated Model of Offender Personality, Angela Pardue and Bruce A. Arrigo wisely steer clear of the tricky issue of whether the personality characteristics of unknown offenders can be inferred from behavioural and crime scene data (see Alison et al., 2002) but instead explore the relevance of classifying rapists to “effective diagnosis, treatment, and prevention” (p.385). They explain that although several ‘rapist typologies’ exist, such typologies simply describe the type of offending behaviour and

“missing from the literature on rape offenders is any coherent classification schema that describes the personality structure and operation (i.e., profile) of these different, although related, forms of sexual offending (Douglas et al., 2006). Thus, although researchers agree that the tactics and behaviors of rapist types differ, no single taxonomy has been developed that adequately accounts for personality properties” (p.384).

They use a case study method to demonstrated how such a taxonomy might be developed, through a detailed analysis of the offending behaviours and personality characteristics of three well-known offenders: Gilbert Escobedo, Paul Bernardo and Jeffrey Dahmer. They conclude:

Admittedly, the [three case study] analysis is limited in scope and is not generalizable to a larger sample of rapists… [But] the findings from this heuristically oriented case study inquiry suggest that rapists are a heterogeneous group who must be studied as such. Consequently, additional investigations on rapist types and personality composition should be undertaken. This includes the construction of theoretical frameworks and the development of classification taxonomies that lead to empirical analyses (p.397).


Also in this issue of International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology:

  • Ron Langevin and Suzanne Curnoe – Are the Mentally Retarded and Learning Disordered Overrepresented Among Sex Offenders and Paraphilics?
  • Tomer Einat and Amela Einat – Learning Disabilities and Delinquency: A Study of Israeli Prison Inmates
  • Eric L. Sevigny and Phyllis D. Coontz – Patterns of Substance Involvement and Criminal Behavior: A Gender-Based Cluster Analysis of Pennsylvania Arrestees
  • Mally Shechory and Avital Laufer – Social Control Theory and the Connection With Ideological Offenders Among Israeli Youth During the Gaza Disengagement Period
  • Connie Ireland and Bruce Berg – Women in Parole: Respect and Rapport

Photo credit: “Medo / Fear” by xaimex, Creative Commons License

“Reforms aim to dispel rape myths and increase convictions”

no2rapeThe UK Government has finally published details of proposed reforms to the criminal justice system, in a bid do something to increase the appalling 6% conviction rate for rape. I can’t find a link to the official Government announcement, but the Guardian (29 Nov) is one of many news media to report the details, which include informing jurors of the range of responses that victims may have to rape:

Juries are to be told how rape victims typically respond in an attempt to dispel “rape myths” which ministers believe are contributing to plummeting conviction rates for the crime. A panel of judges, doctors and academics will start work next month on the project, which will attempt to put together a package to inform the jury without interfering with the fairness of a trial.

… Ministers initially proposed allowing expert witnesses to give evidence to the jury on how rape victims behave. But that idea, which circuit judges described as a “minefield”, has been shelved. The panel is expected to recommend an information booklet, a video or directions from the judge. A proposal for a statutory definition of “capacity to consent” – to deal with situations where a woman was so drunk it was questionable whether she had the power to say yes or no – has also been scrapped.

There is plenty of research on rape myths and a fair amount on jurors’ decision making in rape and sexual assault trials (see below the fold). And the issue of ‘capacity to consent’ has received recent attention: research sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Centre and completed last year by UK researchers Dr Emily Finch and Dr Vanessa Munro suggests that juries are ‘unsympathetic’ to women who make allegations of rape following a period of heavy drinking : Finch and Munro “found that jurors often took the view that it was ‘reasonable’ for a man to assume that silence represented sexual consent, even if the silence was due to the fact that the woman was totally intoxicated”.

So efforts to address jurors’ stereotypes about rape and rape victims are welcome. But as the Fawcett Society points out, attrition in rape cases starts early. The vast majority of allegations of rape don’t even get as far as the courtroom. The UK Home Office published an excellent report earlier this year, in which the authors examined patterns of attrition in rape cases (Feist et al., 2007). They found that nearly 70% of cases were lost between the victims’ allegation being recorded and a suspect being charged, with the main reasons being the victim withdrawing her* complaint, perhaps because she lost confidence in the police investigation, and the police failing to find enough evidence to charge a suspect. Rape is a difficult crime to investigate, but the Feist et al. findings indicated variation in attrition rates across police forces, suggesting that local practices might in part contribute to the failure to bring rapists to justice. Reforms need to address the care of victims of rape and the investigation of sexual assault cases if real progress is to be made in increasing our pitiful conviction rapes.

* the Feist et al. research only covered investigations of allegations of rape of females


Further references on rape myths and jury decision making below the fold.

Photo credit: steenface!, Creative Commons License

Continue reading “Reforms aim to dispel rape myths and increase convictions”

Essays on social justice and criminal justice

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at Kings College London has published a set of essays based on contributions and papers from a two day conference held by the Centre earlier this year.

This collection of essays from more than 20 researchers and academics highlights how the government has failed to tackle deep-rooted social injustice. Published as part of our Harm and Society project, the collection explores themes such as the impact of historically high levels of inequality, endemic violence against women and the increasing reliance on criminal justice measures to manage social problems.

Table of contents below the fold.


Continue reading Essays on social justice and criminal justice

Quick links


Having neglected this blog somewhat in recent weeks I find myself now overwhelmed with interesting snippets from around the web and blogosphere. Here are just a few that caught my eye:

The Eyewitness Reform Blog reports on a conviction “overturned for failure to “seriously consider” expert testimony on eyewitness factors”: “The court didn’t go as far as to say that it was error to exclude the expert testimony, but citing Illinois case law, found that it was error to fail to provide a reasoned basis for its exclusion.”

The Eyewitness Reform Blog also highlights the recent publication of an article in the NIJ Journal on making eyewitness identification in police line-ups more reliable.

Convicted conman Frank Abnegale claims that a combination of technology and living in “an extremely unethical society” has made crime easier: “You can build all the security systems in the world; you can build the most sophisticated technology, and all it takes is one weak link — someone who operates that technology — to bring it all down” (hat tip to Slashdot).

Some great posts from Romeo Vitelli at Providentia recently, including the tale of a psychotic priest killer, an exorcism case in Singapore, the killer who boasted about how easy it was to lie to psychiatrists, Guy de Maupassant’s struggle with neurosyphilis and two articles on shell shock.

Scott Henson over at Grits for Breakfast has also had some interesting posts up in the last few weeks, including a critique of the “policy many police and probation departments have adopted of rounding up all the registered sex offenders in their community into custody on Halloween night to keep them from having children come to their door” (see also Karen Franklin’s post) and a comment on the fact that although Americans are less likely to be victims of crime, their fear of crime just keeps rising.

Forensic psych Karen Franklin highlights some interesting (and free) articles on sex offending in the journal Sexual Offender Treatment. Whilst I’m talking about Karen, I’ll point you to a great little piece she wrote in September in which she demolishes a few myths and provides some practical advice about what it takes to become a forensic psych.

Michael Connolly at Corrections Sentencing points us towards the impressive set of evaluation resources over at the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 34 is up at Abyss2Hope.

Photo credit: bigeoino, Creative Commons License

Docuticker round-up

ex libris gul law reports collectionLatest criminal justice-related reports via Docuticker:

Juror attitudes and biases in sexual assault cases, published by the Australian Institute of Criminology (pdf):

…This paper presents findings from two recent studies […that] show that juror judgements in rape trials are influenced more by the attitudes, beliefs and biases about rape which jurors bring with them into the courtroom than by the objective facts presented, and that stereotypical beliefs about rape and victims of it still exist within the community.

Recidivism in Australia : findings and future research, published by the Australian Institute of Criminology (pdf):

This report deals with important questions relating to recidivism research. It provides a conceptual framework through which recidivism can be defined and interpreted and arms researchers and policy makers with a battery of tools useful in critical assessment of the research literature.

Courtroom Demeanor: The Theater of the Courtroom, from the Minnesota Law Review (via SSRN):

…Trials are affected by many factors, including the appearance and demeanor of the defendant. This article proposes an approach to deal with non-testifying demeanor evidence that occurs outside the witness box. Given the problems with having jurors rely on demeanor evidence, courts should be carefully monitoring the use of non-testifying demeanor evidence. Appropriate jury instructions should be given, including those warning jurors on proper use of such evidence.

Frequency and Predictors of False Conviction: Why We Know so Little, and New Data on Capital Cases, a University of Michigan Public Law Working Paper (via SSRN):

In the first part of this paper we address the problems inherent in studying wrongful convictions: our pervasive ignorance and the extreme difficulty of obtaining the data that we need to answer even basic questions. ….In the second part we dispel some of that ignorance by considering data on false convictions in a small but important subset of criminal cases about which we have unusually detailed information: death sentences… Based on these comparisons we present a handful of findings on features of the investigations of capital cases, and on background facts about capital defendants, that are modest predictors of false convictions.

Photo credit: ex_libris_gul, Creative Commons License

New issues: Violence Against Women


The August, September and October 2007 issues of Violence Against Women are now online. Follow the links to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

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Violence Against Women 13(8), August 2007

  • An Evaluation of the Coping Patterns of Rape Victims: Integration With a Schema-Based Information-Processing Model – Heather Littleton
  • Patterns of Injuries: Accident or Abuse – Terry Allen, Shannon A. Novak, and Lawrence L. Bench
  • An Integrative Feminist Model: The Evolving Feminist Perspective on Intimate Partner Violence – Beverly A. McPhail, Noel Bridget Busch, Shanti Kulkarni, and Gail Rice
  • Intimate Partner Violence, Technology, and Stalking – Cynthia Southworth, Jerry Finn, Shawndell Dawson, Cynthia Fraser, and Sarah Tucker
  • Negotiating State and NGO Politics in Bangladesh: Women Mobilize Against Acid Violence – Elora Halim Chowdhury
  • Understanding the Complexities of Feminist Perspectives on Woman Abuse: A Commentary on Donald G. Dutton’s Rethinking Domestic Violence – Walter S. DeKeseredy and Molly Dragiewicz

Violence Against Women 13(9), September 2007

  • Attitudes Toward Women and Tolerance for Sexual Harassment Among Reservists – Dawne Vogt, Tamara A. Bruce, Amy E. Street, and Jane Stafford
  • Modern-Day Comfort Women: The U.S. Military, Transnational Crime, and the Trafficking of Women – Donna M. Hughes, Katherine Y. Chon, and Derek P. Ellerman
  • Guest Editor’s Note: Modern-Day Comfort Women – Christine Hansen
  • Lifetime and Current Sexual Assault and Harassment Victimization Rates of Active-Duty United States Air Force Women – Deborah J. Bostock and James G. Daley
  • Rape Rates and Military Personnel in the United States: An Exploratory Study – Leora N. Rosen
  • Analysis and Implications of the Omission of Offenders in the DoD Care for Victims of Sexual Assault Task Force Report – Kristen Houser

Violence Against Women 13(10), October 2007

  • “Everybody Makes Choices”: Victim Advocates and the Social Construction of Battered Women’s Victimization and Agency – Jennifer L. Dunn and Melissa Powell-Williams
  • Cultural Beliefs and Service Utilization by Battered Arab Immigrant Women – Wahiba Abu-Ras
  • Domestic Violence Across Race and Ethnicity: Implications for Social Work Practice and Policy – Susan F. Grossman and Marta Lundy
  • The Effect of Child Sexual Abuse Allegations/ Investigations on the Mother/Child Relationship – Carol A. Plummer and Julie Eastin
  • Factor Structure and Validity of the Revised Conflict Tactics Scales for Spanish Women – Esther Calvete, Susana Corral, and Ana Estevez

New issue: Psychology, Crime & Law 13(5)


The October 2007 issue of Psychology, Crime & Law 13(5) is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

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Contents include:

  • Alcohol as drug of choice; Is drug-assisted rape a misnomer? – Miranda Horvath; Jennifer Brown
  • Appropriate treatment targets or products of a demanding environment? The relationship between aggression in a forensic psychiatric hospital with aggressive behaviour preceding admission and violent recidivism – Michael Daffern; Murray Ferguson; James Ogloff; Lindsay Thomson; Kevin Howells
  • The measurement and influence of child sexual abuse supportive beliefs – Ruth Mann; Stephen Webster; Helen Wakeling; William Marshall
  • The stability and generalizability of young children’s suggestibility over a 44-month interval – Annika Melinder; Matthew Scullin; Tone Gravvold; Marianne Iversen
  • The role of cognitive distortions in paedophilic offending: Internet and contact offenders compared – Dennis Howitt; Kerry Sheldon
  • The impact of bullying and coping strategies on the psychological distress of young offenders – Susie Grennan; Jessica Woodhams
  • A psychometric study of six self-report measures for use with sexual offenders with cognitive and social functioning deficits – Fiona Williams; Helen Wakeling; Stephen Webster
  • An investigation into maladaptive personality functioning in Internet sex offenders – Sarah Laulik; Jane Allam; Lorraine Sheridan

Quick links


Quick links from around the web and blogosphere:

Reports from a review of the Virginia Tech massacre have been published (download via Docuticker) prompting much commentary, including this detailed post over at World of Psychology, where John Grohol discusses the report (pdf) detailing mass murderer Seung Hui Cho’s mental health history.

Providentia draws our attention to a study presented at the recent APA convention which “indicated that sexual assault on women with physical disabilities tended to be more coercive and more physically severe than assaults on women with other types of problems”.

GNIF Brain Blogger discusses research on the implications of war on mental health:

A recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released articles dedicated to the study of conflict, human rights, and international mental health consequences. Some of the most striking papers dealt specifically with the psychological effects of war as well as the implications exposure to violent war crimes have on efforts towards peace building.

Via Karin Franklin, link to a detailed discussion of the efficacy of sex offender treatment over at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Over at The Situationist Blog, consideration of several forensically-relevant issues over the last few weeks, including ongoing discussion of Philip Zimbardo’s latest book The Lucifer Effect here and here, and in a post in which Zimbardo replies to his critics in person. Other recent posts include a commentary on judicial independence and a spotlight on research on race and the death penalty.

Peter Tillers draws our attention to a new paper up at SSRN on The Theater of the Courtroom.

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 30 is up at Abyss2Hope.

Photo credit: bigeoino, Creative Commons License

New issue: Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling 4(1)


The January 2007 issue of Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling 4(1) has only just gone online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Contents include:

  • Crime behaviours and distance travelled in homicides and rapes – Pekka Santtila, Manne Laukkanen, Angelo Zappalà
  • From marine ecology to crime analysis: Improving the detection of serial sexual offences using a taxonomic similarity measure – Jessica Woodhams, Tim D. Grant, Andrew R. G. Price
  • Offender and crime characteristics of female serial arsonists in Japan – Taeko Wachi, Kazumi Watanabe, Kaeko Yokota, Mamoru Suzuki, Maki Hoshino, Atsushi Sato, Goro Fujita
  • National and regional reviews of investigative and forensic psychology – David Canter
  • Forensic psychology in the Czech republic – Veronika Anna Polienská

New issue: Violence Against Women 13(7)


Violence Against Women 13(7) (July 2007) is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Sign up for personalised ToC alerts here.

Contents include:

  • Risk Factors for Abusive Relationships: A Study of Vietnamese American Immigrant Women – Merry Morash, Hoan Bui, Yan Zhang, and Kristy Holtfreter
  • Silenced Voices and Structured Survival: Battered Women’s Help Seeking – Angela M. Moe
  • Exploring the Perceptions of Domestic Violence Service Providers in Rural Localities – Brenda J. Eastman, Shelia G. Bunch, A. Hamilton Williams, and Lena W. Carawan
  • The Factors Affecting Sexual Assaults Committed by Strangers and Acquaintances – Lynn M. Pazzani
  • Women Who Are Stalked: Questioning the Fear Standard – Noella A. Dietz and Patricia Yancey Martin