Is there an "expert" stranger rapist?

Julien Chopin, Sarah Paquette, Eric Beauregard

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The concept of expertise applied to the criminal context assumes that offenders are driven by the abilities to both maximize the payoffs and minimize the risks associated with the crime-commission. This study tested the articulation between these two types of decisions taken by stranger rapists to successfully commit their crime. Specifically, this study aims to identify whether offenders whose modus operandi is indicative of criminal expertise are more likely to use forensic awareness strategies. Multivariate analyses conducted on 1,551 cases showed that stranger rapists who adopted behaviors indicative of expertise were more likely to use forensic awareness strategies to decrease the risk of police detection. Mixed associations were found between the number of forensic awareness strategies and their nature (i.e., protecting identity vs. destroying evidence) and rapists' expertise, thus leading to a four-type theoretical classification of expertise: novice, bold, opportunistic, and expert stranger rapists. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-105
Number of pages28
JournalSexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment
Issue number1
Early online date15 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Crime
  • Crime Victims
  • Criminals
  • Humans
  • Police
  • Rape
  • Sex Offenses

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