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Butner Study Redux: A Report of the Incidence of Hands-on Child Victimization by Child Pornography Offenders

NCJ Number
Journal of Family Violence Volume: 24 Issue: 3 Dated: April 2009 Pages: 183-191
Michael L. Bourke; Andres E. Hernandez
Date Published
April 2009
9 pages
This study compared the behaviors of two groups of child-pornography offenders who were participating in a voluntary treatment program.
The study found that the child-pornography offenders who were convicted of the possession, receipt, or distribution of child-sexual-abuse images but had no known criminal history of “hands-on” sexual abuse were likely to have engaged in the actual sexual abuse of a child. Thus, they were similar in their sexual behavioral patterns toward children to the second group examined, which consisted of child-pornography offenders with documented histories of “hands-on” sexual offending against at least one child. The men in either of the child-pornography groups who had committed sexual offenses against children were likely to have offended against more than one victim, and the incidence of “crossover” by gender and age was high. These findings challenge the frequent assertion that child-pornography offenders are “only” involved with “pictures,” such that they pose no significant risk of direct commission of a sexual offense against a child. The findings indicate the importance of online criminal investigations that target so-called “Internet sex offenders,” since such investigations are likely to result in the apprehension of child molesters. Although these men may attribute their search for child pornography to “curiosity” or a similar unthreatening motivation, the findings of the current study suggest the likelihood that they have also engaged in the sexual abuse of children. Study subjects were 155 sexual offenders participating in an intensive, residential, sex offender-specific treatment program at a medium-security Federal prison. Information regarding hands-on offenses known at the time of sentencing was obtained from each subject’s presentence investigation report. The subjects were also administered a Psychosexual History Questionnaire which obtained demographic information and developmental, psychosocial, criminal, and sexual histories, including sexual contacts with children. 2 figures, 1 table, and 28 references