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Women Who Molest Children: A Study of 18 Convicted Offenders

NCJ Number
Prosecutor Volume: 40 Issue: 3 Dated: May/June 2006 Pages: 26-30,41
William Carson M.A.
Date Published
May 2006
6 pages
Interviews with 18 women convicted of sexually molesting children in Missouri focused on their backgrounds and offending behaviors.
All 18 women molested children they knew; 12 molested child acquaintances, most often neighbors or friends of the family; 7 women molested child relatives by blood or marriage. Collectively, the women had molested at least 36 children, with no victim being a complete stranger. The average age of the women at the time they committed their offenses was 28.5 years. The molested children ranged in age from infancy to age 16. Eleven women victimized only boys, and 3 victimized only girls; 4 women victimized both boys and girls. Sixty-one percent of the women had no criminal history prior to the current conviction. None of the women had previous arrests for violent crimes or sexual offenses. Eleven women came from broken homes, and 10 women reported a history of physical abuse, neglect, and/or domestic violence in their childhood families. Ten reported a history of drug or alcohol abuse by themselves or a parent during their childhoods. Thirteen of the women reported being victims of childhood sexual abuse. The 5 typologies of offending behavior identified for the 18 women are described as "lover," "seducer," "molester," "helper," and "coerced." Three of the women fell in love with their victims, believing they were having a consensual love affair ("lover"). Eight women seduced their victims, who were usually older children or adolescents ("seducer"). Three women molested younger children (between the ages of three and five years old) for any number of reasons ("molester"). Two women aided or collaborated with another person in the sexual abuse of children ("helper"); and two women committed or participated in the sexual abuse of children because they were being dominated and controlled by another person ("coerced").