M Jenny Edwards
SME, Animal Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
The link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence has been well-established. What is less well-understood is the link between animal sexual abuse and human sexual abuse and exploitation. This symposium brings together professionals from law, forensic psychology, cybercrime, and criminology who will draw on their expertise, empirical research, and selected case histories from nearly 500 known offenders to examine the links between bestiality and deviant behavior.
Keywords: bestiality, animal sex offender, sexual offending, sexual exploitation, sexual deviance, pornography
The link between cruelty to animals and a propensity for interpersonal violence has been well-established by numerous academic studies and empirical data. What is less well-understood is the link between the sexual abuse of animals (bestiality) and interpersonal violence, sexual abuse, and exploitation. While there is limited research examining these relationships or behavior patterns of animal sex offenders, some findings suggest there is a measurable, or even significant, correlation between animal and human sex crimes. In particular, involvement in bestiality and pornography consumption as a child or adolescent may serve as a gateway to deviant lifestyles or sexual offenses committed later in life against children or non-consenting adults (Davis & Braucht, 1973). The increased demand for deviant content supports not only solicitation of children and adolescents, but trafficking of women and girls to perform sexual acts depicting violence and bestiality (Mitchell, 2016)
In a recent study, Seigfried-Spellar and Rogers (2013) surveyed 630 adult men and women on pornography consumption and found child pornography users were more likely to consume adult and animal pornography. Confirming the findings of Davis and Braucht, the earlier a person began to view pornography, the more likely they were to progress to deviant forms of pornography, including bestiality or violent images. In a follow-up study, Seigfried-Spellar (2016) found individuals who consumed adult pornography were statistically more likely to consume animal pornography, and animal pornography users were statistically more likely to consume child pornography. In 2015, Seigfried-Spellar presented research suggesting bestiality fantasies were predictive of self-reported child pornography image preferences for a sample of Internet child pornography users; specifically, bestiality fantasies significantly predicted the consumption of general preteen child pornography, power and control child pornography, and/or teen child pornography.
Several studies have indicated that animal cruelty and bestiality committed as a child or adolescent is positively correlated with later sexual abuse of children or adults. Abel (2008) reported that bestiality committed as a child was the single largest risk factor, and strongest predictor, of increased risk for committing child sexual abuse. When compared to rapists, Simons et al. (2008) found child sex offenders more often reported childhood exposure to animal cruelty (68%), pornography (65%), and bestiality (38%). In a 2014 study by Schenk, approximately one-third of juvenile sex offenders admitted to engaging in bestiality as a child. After administration of a polygraph examination, 81.25% of the same subjects admitted to engaging in bestiality as a child.
Bestiality is not limited to male offenders. Simons, Tyler, and Heil (2005) studied 284 male and female sex offenders, and found that 56% of the male sex offenders and 55% of the female sex offenders reported having engaged in bestiality. They further reported that female offenders who victimized children were more likely to have engaged in bestiality than those who victimized adults. Finally, Violent sex offenders are more likely to have engaged in bestiality. In a study of 137 rapists and 132 child sexual abusers, Simons, Wurtele, and Durham (2008) found child molesters were significantly more likely to report having engaged in bestiality (38%) than rapists (11%).
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THE INTERSECTION OF LAW AND PSYCHOLOGY IN BESTIALITY
M. Jenny Edwards, Criminologist; C. Kirk Johnson, PhD, Forensic Psychologist; Eric Richey, JD, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Whatcom County, Washington; Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar, PhD, Cyberforensics, Purdue University, Department of Computer and Information Technology; with contributions from Brian E. Oliver, PhD, Criminology and Social Science