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Stance-shifting in language used by sex offenders: Five case studies

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Abstract:

Attempts to classify sex offenders for the purpose of investigating sexual assaults or formulating treatment strategies often use evidence left at crime scenes, victims' statements, and case studies to organize sex offenders' personality characteristics into categories. Typologies of offenders may vary in the degree to which they are empirical or incorporate offender language. In the treatment of sex offenders, some focus has been placed on the offender's spoken attribution of responsibility. The current study uses multidimensional analysis of shifts in stance to outline a framework that overlays the basic motivations of sex offenders as classified by MTC:R3 and the offenders' process of attributing blame. Applied to five cases of sexual assault, markers of stance successfully signal diminution or reassignment of personal agency in aggressor and victim pre-trial oral statements, suggesting how rapists push personal responsibility aside in order to justify the 'reasonableness' of their actions.

Keywords: agency; attribution of blame; offender typologies; sex offenders; stance-shift analysis

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10683160701770153

Affiliations: 1: Department of Criminal Justice, University of North Carolina Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA 2: Department of English, University of North Carolina Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA 3: Linguistic Insights Inc., Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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