Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Karyn M. Plumm


For the last couple of decades, sex offenders have been stereotyped into being strangers to the victim and "dirty old men." However, recent research has shown that the public is no longer endorsing those stereotypes (Fuselier, Durham, & Wurtele, 2002; Levenson, Brannon, Fortney, & Baker, 2007). Instead the public is realizing that there is no stereotypical sex offender and most victims of sex offenses know their assailant to some degree. The purpose of the current study is to look at the judgments made about a teacher being accused of criminal sexual contact with a student, where gender and attractiveness of the teacher is manipulated. The study is a 2 (gender of teacher) x 2 (gender of participant) x 3 (attractiveness of teacher: attractive, unattractive, no picture) design. Participants (N = 180) were asked to report their beliefs for four areas: sentencing, recidivism, conviction, and victim blame. Results showed that attractiveness did not affect the sentence length. In addition, attraction of the defendant did not affect whether participants believed the defendant should register as a sex offender or the length of time on the registry. For those who did not view the actions of the teacher as a sex offense, they believed the attractive female should be convicted, however the attractive male defendant should not be. Finally, male participants blamed the male victim more than female participants did. The present study provides insight into gender differences in regard to perceptions of sex offenders. Implications for the courtroom are discussed.