Date of Conferral







Robert L. Meyer


The gender of the adult offender may influence perceptions and criminal sentencing of child sexual abuse (CSA) cases in Puerto Rico. Extralegal factors such as culture and stereotypes may impact how CSA crimes are perceived and handled. The traumagenic dynamic model and the focal concerns theory of sentencing provided the theoretical frameworks for the study. Data were gathered by convenience sampling. To measure perceptions and sentencing decisions, 525 participants were asked to read a hypothetical case of CSA by a teacher with a minor student. Point-biserial correlational analyses were used to assess the influence of the independent variable (sex of the offender) on the dependent variable (perceptions and criminal sentencing of CSA in teacher sex offense cases). Gender of the offender was evaluated as a moderator variable to determine if it interacted with the other variables. Results indicated that the gender of the offender has an effect on perceptions and criminal sentencing in CSA cases in Puerto Rico. Female offenders were judged less harshly for the exact same offense, and male offenders were identified by participants as more harmful and responsible for the offense. Other unexpected findings were related to views of victim responsibility and harm. Findings of this study could have a positive social change impact on how mental health professionals, law enforcement, and the courts intervene in CSA cases.