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Elderly sexual abuse: An Examination of the Criminal Event

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Chopin Julien, Beauregard Eric,
Project Détection de patterns situationnels dynamiques et implication dans la résolution des crimes sexuels de prédation
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment
Publisher Sage
Page(s) 1 - 21
Title of proceedings Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment
DOI 10.1177/1079063219843899


The current study investigates the modus operandi specificities for the sexual abuse against the elderly. A comparison between sex crimes against adult and elderly victims is conducted following the criminal event approach. The comparison is based on the precrime, crime, and postcrime phases of the modus operandi, operationalized through 53 variables. The sample comes from a French national police database including a total of 1,829 cases—including 130 cases of elderly sexual abuse and 1,699 cases of sexual abuse against victims aged between 18 and 45 years. Bivariate and multivariate analyses are performed to examine the differences in the two groups. Several differences are observed between the two modus operandi. Findings indicate that the precrime phase is the most important to explain these differences, and this phase of the criminal event affects the rest of the decisions taken during the crime and postcrime phases. Specifically, we have highlighted that sexual crimes against the elderly are more violent and occur more often in the victim’s residence. This study suggests that offenders targeting the elderly use specific crime characteristics, and this allows to highlight practical implications in terms of investigation and offender management.