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J Interpers Violence. 2016 Jan;31(1):26-48. doi: 10.1177/0886260514555132. Epub 2014 Nov 20.

Same-Sex and Race-Based Disparities in Statutory Rape Arrests.

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University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, OK, USA
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, OK, USA.
Johns Hopkins University, MD, USA.


This study tests a liberation hypothesis for statutory rape incidents, specifically that there may be same-sex and race/ethnicity arrest disparities among statutory rape incidents and that these will be greater among statutory rape than among forcible sex crime incidents. 26,726 reported incidents of statutory rape as defined under state statutes and 96,474 forcible sex crime incidents were extracted from National Incident-Based Reporting System data sets. Arrest outcomes were tested using multilevel modeling. Same-sex statutory rape pairings were rare but had much higher arrest odds. A victim-offender romantic relationship amplified arrest odds for same-sex pairings, but damped arrest odds for male-on-female pairings. Same-sex disparities were larger among statutory than among forcible incidents. Female-on-male incidents had uniformly lower arrest odds. Race/ethnicity effects were smaller than gender effects and more complexly patterned. The findings support the liberation hypothesis for same-sex statutory rape arrest disparities, particularly among same-sex romantic pairings. Support for race/ethnicity-based arrest disparities was limited and mixed.


gender; race; sex crimes; statutory rape

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