Study Says Most College Sex Offenders Are White Male Faculty Members

A new report finds that the majority of college sex offenders are white male faculty members, with more alarming trends.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Child sex trafficking, child pornography, and sexual abuse of minors is a serious, growing issue all around the world. Even worse, it seems to be perpetuated by education officials at alarming rates. Unfortunately, and for unknown reasons, data and statistics regarding sex offenders in both public school and higher education remain scarce to come by. To this, one researcher and independent scholar took the matter into her own hands. Diving deep into the topic, her extensive research found that the majority of sex offenders in college are white male faculty members; here is what she found.

Lori Handrahan is an expert humanitarian dedicating her career to the study of human trafficking. When she began to notice of significant lack of data regarding college sex offenders nearly a decade ago, she made it her mission to study abuse cases committed by college and university employees, with respective interest in cases of child sexual exploitation material, or child pornography. Publishing her findings in a 112-page scholarly article this past February, she unraveled startling information about gender, race, authority, and much more in relation to higher ed sex offenders.

Inside Higher Ed reports that Hadrahan’s research is the most comprehensive analysis ever conducted on the matter of sex offenders in colleges and universities. Because information on the matter is hard to come by, she pulled police reports and news articles from over 223 investigations, arrests, and prosecutions. The data found that 91% of every case was committed by a white staff member. Of these, half were within leadership positions at the institutions. Furthermore, 30% of them had received prestigious awards in professional excellence. A pattern clearly was developing.

As for areas of focus of these white male sex offenders, the educators were largely categorized as professors in humanities and medical science, or senior administrative roles. Likewise, she found common themes of perpetrators holding positions in information technology, campus security, and police personnel. Many of those positions, she said, also were given further access to the most vulnerable children because of their roles. Most of the offenders had served in their role for at least 10 years.

Furthermore, her study found that more than half of the white male sex offenders’ criminal investigations involved children aged 10 or younger. Nearly 35% of them also were parents. Handrahan also made note that in her research, she found absolutely no cases involving faculty members from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU).

As for consequences, Handrahan reported that a quarter of the sex offenders were caught or arrested while on campus grounds. Additionally, at least 42% were using college property, such as computers, to perpetrate their crimes. Three-quarters of all abusers entered plea deals, and nearly all of them plead guilty. The average jail sentence received was 12 years, with an average probation time of seven years. Victim restitution, or compensation, was reportedly rare.

sex offenders

Other than simply delivering the findings, Handrahan also gave her expert opinion on how exactly she believes higher ed institutes should respond to this information. For one thing, she made note that among the cases of sex offenders she meticulously studied, she concluded that colleges made little effort to establish any best practice standards when discovering cases of abuse. As a point of exemplary practices, she said colleges should develop thorough internet blocking technology to prevent, and catch perpetrators using campus technology to commit child pornography. 

The information is now available for public view, but how it can be implemented remains unknown. Can this information aid official in preventing sex offenders from attaining these jobs? Or can it possibly even intimidate colleges to implement further practices to thoroughly check into employees before they are hired, regardless of their reputable resumes? This all remains unknown, but one thing is for sure, if the issue isn’t further addressed, it’s only going to continue to get worse.