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The ‘Butner Study’ Redux: A Report of the Incidence of Hands-on Child Victimization by Child Pornography Offenders


This study compared two groups of child pornography offenders participating in a voluntary treatment program: men whose known sexual offense history at the time of judicial sentencing involved the possession, receipt, or distribution of child abuse images, but did not include any “hands-on” sexual abuse; and men convicted of similar offenses who had documented histories of hands-on sexual offending against at least one child victim. The goal was to determine whether the former group of offenders were “merely” collectors of child pornography at little risk for engaging in hands-on sexual offenses, or if they were contact sex offenders whose criminal sexual behavior involving children, with the exception of Internet crimes, went undetected. Our findings show that the Internet offenders in our sample were significantly more likely than not to have sexually abused a child via a hands-on act. They also indicate that the offenders who abused children were likely to have offended against multiple victims, and that the incidence of “crossover” by gender and age is high.

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  1. Note that the sum of these numbers is greater than 40 due to the fact that 12 men who admitted to investigators that they committed undetected hands-on offenses also had either previous convictions or confirmed incidents of abuse by a social service agency.


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The authors wish to thank R. Harmon for his assistance with data collection and data entry.

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Correspondence to Michael L. Bourke.

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Opinions expressed in this article on those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the US Marshals Service, or the US Department of Justice.

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Bourke, M.L., Hernandez, A.E. The ‘Butner Study’ Redux: A Report of the Incidence of Hands-on Child Victimization by Child Pornography Offenders. J Fam Viol 24, 183 (2009).

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  • Child pornography
  • Internet offender
  • Online offender
  • Butner Study
  • Hands-on abuse