Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

FEMALE OFFENDERS

Female Sex Offenders

According to Court TV, Beth Friedman, 42, was convicted in Florida of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Donald Vaden, because the boy claimed that when he was only 15, she offered him gifts of alcohol and drugs in exchange for sex. Her defense was that he was extorting her for money by making up lies. In the same state, Denise McBryde, 38, admitted to having sexual relations with a 15-year-old student, while in Minnesota, Julie Feil, 32, pleaded guilty to a three-month sexual affair with a student, claiming that she loved him "the best way I knew how." Kimberly Merson, 24, brought eight underage boys to her home, got them drunk, removed their clothes, and had sex with them.

These women initiated the activity, taking advantage of boys who were sexually stimulated and flavoring their crime with a romantic tone. There was no violence involved, some of them say, and the boys were willing, so what is the problem?

They're abusing their roles to satisfy themselves. Romantic or not, they are female sexual offenders.

Such women represent about 10 percent of all sexual offenses, and their abuse often involves their own child or children. Some have only one victim, many have several. Psychologist A. J. Cooper cites a study that 20 percent of these sex offenders even resort to force. He points out that the reasons why some women become recalcitrant sex offenders is incompletely understood, but he feels that it may result from a combination of hyper sexuality, associations with early sexual experiences, and imitation of abuse perpetrated on them. They even tend to use the same forms of abuse that they had once experienced. Most of them are immature, dependent, and sensitive to rejection, so they tend to gravitate toward younger people who are not their peers. The risk of rejection is less likely and they create situations in which they can be in control.

Psychiatrist Janet Warren and psychologist Julia Hislop also researched female sexual offenders, and in Practical Aspects of Rape Investigation, they offered a typology:

  • Facilitators women who intentionally aid men in gaining access to children for sexual purposes
  • Reluctant partners women in long term relationships who go along with sexual exploitation of a minor out of fear of being abandoned
  • Initiating partner women who want to sexually offend against a child and who may do it themselves or get a man or another woman to do it while they watch
  • Seducers and lovers women who direct their sexual interest against adolescents and develop an intense attachment
  • Pedophiles women who desire an exclusive and sustain sexual relationship with a child ( a very rare occurrence)
  • Psychotic women who suffer from a mental illness and who have inappropriate sexual contact with children as a result

In some cases, women who lacked ongoing relationships with men put their male children in the role of substitute lover, and there are cases in which the sexual contact is used as revenge against a male partner. These female perpetrators generally come from chaotic homes. "Not only does this have long term effects on the children," these researchers note, "but it also serves as a contagion that follows victims into the next generation with repetitious and cyclical traumatization of others."

Some of these women get involved with men who then use them in more serious crimes, although the majority of partners in murder appear not to have suffered abuse. How they get to the point of criminal behavior is more often influenced by how the partner treats them over a period of time.

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