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J Sex Marital Ther. 2002 May-Jun;28(3):211-8.

Age as a differential characteristic of rapists, pedophiles, and sexual sadists.

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  • 1Sexual Behavior Clinic, Centre for Addictions and Mental Health and Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


In this study, we investigated the role of age in three categories of 168 sex offenders, including 53 rapists, 62 pedophiles, and 53 sadists. On the basis of the match between requisites of completing each type of sexual offense, we hypothesized that rapists would be less represented in the older age group, whereas pedophilic and sexually sadistic offenders would show a more muted decline with age. This hypothesis was supported by the data, clearly a showing smaller number of rapists in the over 40 group relative to the number of pedophiles and sadists (p = 0.0009.) Further examination of the files eliminated the alternate explanation ascribing this pattern to lack of opportunity in older rapists because of incarceration. These results suggest that age over 40 may mitigate incidence of recidivism in rapists, but not in pedophiles or sexual sadists. Approximately one third of the sexual sadists had committed either first- or second-degree murder, whereas none of the nonsadistic rapists or pedophiles had these crimes on their records. The data further justify categorization of sex offenders into nonsadistic rapist, sadistic rapist, and pedophilic offenders in future research to enhance precision in delineating demographic characteristics and putative causal explanations for sexual offending.

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