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Sexual and general offending trajectories of men referred for civil commitment

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date08/2014
JournalSexual Abuse
Number of pages19
Early online date8/07/13
Original languageEnglish


Policies aimed at managing high-risk offenders, which include sex offenders, often assume they are a homogeneous population. These policies also tend to assume the pattern of offending is the same for all sex offenders, and is stable. This study challenges these assumptions examining the life-course offending trajectories of 780 convicted adult male sexual offenders. The men were referred to the Massachusetts Treatment Center for civil commitment between 1959 and 1984. The changing number of both sexual and all offenses by age were examined using Group-Based Trajectory Modeling. We identified a four-trajectory model for all offending and a four-trajectory model for sexual offending. The identified groups varied in several offending patterns including criminal onset, length of criminal careers, age of peak offending, and time of entry into the treatment center. Late adult onset of sex offending was found to be associated with child molestation, whereas early onset trajectories were associated with rape. Implications for future research and policy are discussed.