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This information can be downloaded from this page in PDF format. Single printed copies are also available by request via e-mail: oag@oag.state.md.us or telephone: (410) 576-6300 or 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free in Maryland

   

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: THE MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT SEXUAL OFFENDING

Because of common misconceptions, many of us have both unwarranted fears and misguided complacency about sex offenders. Protecting ourselves and our children must begin by understanding the facts about sex offenders and their crimes.

  • Sex offenders who are caught and convicted are the tip of the iceberg. MOST sex offenders are never identified. Less than 30% of sexual crimes are even reported to law enforcement, and even fewer are successfully prosecuted and convicted. Estimates are that the several hundred thousand convicted sex offenders nationwide represent only a fraction (less than 10%) of all sex offenders living in communities across the country.
  • The vast majority (80-95%) of sex offenders KNOW THEIR VICTIMS. Sexual assaults committed by strangers, while often high-profile, are far less common than assaults by someone in a victim’s familiar circle of family, friends, and acquaintances - an old boyfriend, a babysitter, a coach, an uncle. Between 75-90% of adult victims of rape report knowing their assailant. About 60% of sexual victimization of boys and 80% of girls is committed by offenders known to the child or his family. Young victims who know their abuser are least likely to report the crime.
  • Sex offenders cut across all demographic groups. Sex offenders come from all kinds of backgrounds, income levels and professions. Many have no official criminal record or sex crime history of any kind. While there is no profile of a “typical sex offender,” therefore, they all tend to be manipulative, deceptive, and secretive. Most do not offend on impulse, but rather plan their crimes carefully.
  • Sex offenders often commit different types of sex crimes with different kinds of victims. At least half of convicted child molesters have also assaulted adults. Over 80% of convicted rapists of adults have also molested children. Over two-thirds of offenders committing incest have also assaulted victims outside the family. One-third of offenders report assaulting both males and females.
  • Not all sex offenders are male, and not all offenders are adults. The majority are male, but women also commit sexual offenses, particularly against children. While most offenders are adults, adolescents account for a significant number of rapes and child molestation cases every year.
  • Sex offenders are four times more likely than other offenders to be rearrested for another sex crime, and child molesters have the highest rearrest rates among different types of sex offenders. Measuring how likely it is that a sex offender will commit another sex crime is tricky because most sex crimes are unreported. Sex offenders are less likely than other offenders to be rearrested for any crime, but considerably more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime. The more prior arrests a sex offender has before release, the higher the rate of rearrest. Rearrest rates of sex offenders also do not follow the pattern of non-sex offenders by falling as offenders age.
  • The median age of sexual assault victims is less than 13 years old; the median age of rape victims is 22 years old.

 

 

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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