Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Karyn Plumm


The present study examined perceptions of sex offenders using a 2 (victim age: 11-year-old vs. 15-year-old) X 2 (type of sexual offense: rape vs. statutory rape) X 3 (affiliation of the perpetrator: public school teacher vs. Catholic priest teacher vs. Lutheran pastor teacher) factorial design. Participants (N = 286) were asked to read one of 12 vignettes describing charges of improper sexual activity between a male teacher and his male student. Results indicated that participants recommended a shorter sentence and registry level, attributed more blame to the victim and less to the offender, and found the victim more mentally unstable when the offense was statutory rape. Participants believed that the offender was mentally unstable, should be convicted at a higher rate, and attributed less blame to the victim when the victim was 11. Participants also recommended lengthier sentences to the Lutheran pastor when the offense was rape. Implications are discussed.