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Keywords:

  • offender–victim interaction;
  • sexual offending;
  • child sexual abuse;
  • modus operandi;
  • victim participation;
  • sexual behaviors;
  • situational factors

Criminological research has shown the relevance of examining offender–victim interaction and related factors to understand crime event outcomes. In sexual offenses against children, an obvious lack of knowledge exists regarding this issue. From a criminological perspective, we seek to improve our understanding of the offender–victim interaction in sexual offenses against children and, in particular, what factors might increase the risk of a more intrusive offense. We argue that modus operandi strategies play a central role in crime event outcomes and examine this hypothesis with data obtained from a semistructured interview conducted with offenders. As expected, modus operandi was found to have a strong effect on crime event outcomes, especially victim participation during sexual episodes. Victim effects also emerged from the analyses. Specifically, a strong interaction effect between age and gender of the victim was found for victim participation, which suggests that as the victim gets older, offenders are more likely to make their victim participate in sexual episodes when abusing a male victim but are less likely to do so when abusing a female victim.