Research at Case Western Reserve University Sheds Light on the Behavior of Serial Rapists

New research conducted at the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, has found that serial rapists tend not to follow a distinctive pattern. Instead, the researchers say, serial rapists are “opportunistic” and strike at random.

Researchers examined criminal files of thousands of rape cases in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, between 1993 and 2009 and conducted DNA testing on samples in rape kits that had not been processed during the period.

Rachel Lovell, a senior research associate at the center, stated that “serial sex offenders frequently assault both strangers and non-strangers, and often drastically vary their modus operandi across assaults. Offenders in the sample frequently exhibited crossover offending by relationship, age and even some by gender.”

By using DNA analysis researchers found a man who had raped a 13-year-old girl and two months later a three-year-old boy. Another rapist assaulted his intimate partner, a complete stranger, and an adult male.

“We’ve all heard serial rapists referred to by what are believed to be their very specific patterns,” said Dr. Lovell. “This research shows that these offenders are more about opportunity than maintaining a method.”

Dr. Lovell holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She earned a Ph.D. in sociology at Ohio State University.



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