Reported Cases of Female sex Offenders
It is generally known that female sex offenders receive more lenient sentences than their male counterparts (Embry et al, Sex-Based Sentencing: Sentencing Discrepancies Between Male and Female Sex Offenders. Feminist Criminology, 2012;7(2):146-162), are subject to fewer prison assaults, and are granted earlier release on parole. While the former decision is made by the courts, and arguably open to possible court bias, the latter decision is made by correctional officials, and based on relatively reliable results from the research. Even though sexual victimization by either males or females is a traumatizing experience, female offenders are not as dangerous as male offenders, and combine the act with fewer aggravating circumstances, such as weapon possession, kidnapping, and violence. Perhaps because of this, more cases of female sex offending go unreported. See domestic abuse for a more detailed look at rates of female victimization by men.
According to psychologist Anna C. Salter, female sex offenders fall into three groups: the first group often victimizes their own biological children, mostly those under the age of six; the second group, called the "teacher/lover" group, have sex with children in the groups they are involved with, are usually around 30 years old and having sex with kids about 15 years old (portrayed in the 2006 movie "Notes On A Scandal", featuring Cate Blanchett as a teacher who has an affair with a 15-year-old male student); and finally, the third group are coerced into sexual situations with children by an abusive male partner. Clinical and forensic psychologist Jackie Craissati adds an additional dimension to these three, involving the adolescent female perpetrator, who often comes from a very disturbed background ().
Male victims of female sexual abuse often suffer from many of the same conditions experienced by female victims of male abusers: chronic difficulties in maintaining relationships, severe depression and substance abuse. The parents of the boys who were sexually abused by Sue Reschke in 2013 reported that their sons started showing signs of behavioral and academic problems after the abuse took place. They became socially isolated and awkward around people, and began to suffer from anxiety and depression. The actual incidence of male victimization is also probably much higher than what is reported.
A snapshot of all reported cases of female sex offenders are listed below (as of 2008), including a brief description of the more famous of cases.
- In Canada, there is a general belief that the number of female sex offenders is underestimated. 1991 nationwide estimates by a psychologist with Central Toronto Youth Services pegged the number of abusive women in Canada to be in the "tens of thousands" (30 October 1991 The Hamilton Spectator).
- There were 24 females on the Sex Offenders Register in Scotland as of the end of March 2012, compared to more than 3000 men. However, there are signs that female sex offending is on the rise in the UK, with phone-in reports about female sexual to the NPSCC's helpline (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) had risen by 132% over the past five years. ("Female sex abuse is still taboo despite the rising number of cases of teachers who offend", 24 March 2013, the Sunday Herald).
- According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, women commit about 3 to 4 percent of all sex crimes (27 January 2004 Patriot-News). Nationwide, only 4% of all sexual assaults reported to law enforcement from 1991 to 1996 were female, while an overwhelming 96% were male. As it concerns children, however, the numbers for males and females appear more similar.
- According to Assistant Professor of Law Kay Levine, it is estimated that 1.5 million girls and 1.1 million boys are victims of female sexual abuse each year in the United States.
US selected state data
|State||Reported Female Sex Offenders|
|Arkansas||23||Currently there are 23 registered female sex offenders, according to the state's department of corrections.|
|Texas||471||In 2001, there were 471 female sex offenders listed on the Texas Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registry.|
|Florida||142||As of 2006, current data on the Florida Department of Corrections reports 142 female sex offenders.|
|Georgia||1||Currently there is only 1 female sex offender incarcerated for sexual exploitation of a child, according to the Georgia department of corrections.|
|Iowa||14||There are 14 currently registered female sex offenders incarcerated in Iowa.|
- In 1998, just four of the 87 inmates at the New Hampshire State Prison for Women were convicted sex offenders, compared to the 600 male sex offenders among the 1,600 inmates at the state's all-male Goffstown Prison (11 April 1998 Associated Press Newswires). Kathleen Faller, a University of Michigan researcher, estimates that approximately 20 percent of adult offenders are women.
- In California, there were 386 female sexual offences recorded per year, covering the period from 2000 to 2004. This is compared to 9,000 sexual offences recorded for males. Approximately one-fifth of all sex crimes cases the Kern County deputy district attorney prosecutes each quarter year (about 20-25) are committed by females. This 4-5 per quarter, or only about 20 per year. In 1998, 471 women were registered as sex offenders in California, less than 1 percent of the state's roughly 70,000 sex offenders (20 August 1999 The Las Vegas Review-Journal).
- In 7 years, ending in the year 2000, the Community Youth Network in Grayslake, Illinois reported no more than 5 reported cases of female sexual offending, compared to the 200-250 men it saw in that same period.
- In Tennessee, between 35 and 40 female sex offenders reside in prisons at any given time. This is compared to the roughly 3,000 imprisoned sex-offending men. In 2002, the Tennessee Prison for Women held only 5 female sex offenders.
- In Northern Ireland, policy researcher Dr Lisa Bunting states that up to 5% of all sexual offences against children are carried out by women, but many of these can be concealed beneath the guide of childcare duties (10 January 2006 Belfast Telegraph).
- In New Jersey, populations of female sex offenders have skyrocketed from 100 nationwide in 1980 to over 1,200 in 2000.
- As of 2003, there were only 4 women in the entire United States under state violent sexual predator laws.
- Overall, about 15 percent of children are sexually harassed or abused by a teacher while in school. Most of the convicted are males, but it is only the females that make national headlines, according to Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft.
Famous Cases of Female Sex Offenders
- Florida teacher Debra Lafave was sentenced in March 2006 for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student.
- Sarah Bench-Salorio, a 29 year-old Orange County middle school teacher, pleaded guilty in September of 2005 to 29 counts of "lewd conduct" with boys. One of her victims was just 12 years old when they met.
- On Dec. 22, Jennifer Lynn Sanchez, a 31-year-old Kern County math teacher, was charged with four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old student, and one count each of oral copulation and sodomy with the same student. Three days earlier, a former San Bernardino high school secretary pleaded guilty to statutory rape, also involving a 17-year-old student.
- Mary Kay Letourneau, a former Seattle schoolteacher, was jailed for having sex with a 12-year-old student
- In November of 2005, Sacramento high school teaching intern Margaret De Barraicua, the 31-year-old mother of a 2-year-old boy, was sentenced to one year in jail for having sex with a special education student 15 years younger than her.
- First-grade teacher Rachael Glau, from Crystal Lake, Ill., was sentenced to two years' supervision for having "sexual conduct" with a 16-year-old boy in 1998.
- In 2002, Michelle Worrall pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old boy and performing an indecent act on a second youth, allowing the boys to camp in the back garden of her home in Rhyl.
- 32 year-old high school teacher Julie Feil pleaded guilty to having a three-month sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy who was in her English class.
- 35 year-old Courtney Sue Reschke, of Kuna, Idaho, pleaded guilty in April 2013 to six felony counts of lewd conduct with a minor, all involving the same boy. She was also suspected of abusing several other boys, as well. The judge administered a 20-year sentence, but allowed the option for Reschke to receive treatment and possibly an early exit through parole.