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Journal Article

Citation

Henry DS, Merrell LK, Blackstone SR, Collazo-Vargas E, Mohl C, Tolerico M, Singley L, Moody S. J. Interpers. Violence 2019; ePub(ePub): ePub.

Affiliation

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, USA.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2019, SAGE Publishing)

DOI

10.1177/0886260519873331

PMID

31486341

Abstract

Classification of sexual assault varies based on the characteristics of the victim, perpetrator, and event. However, most studies focus on the individual characteristics of participants asked to classify the assault, the victims' characteristics, or the event; few have examined variations in the perpetrator. Therefore, this study examined whether the occupation of the perpetrator affected the classification of the event as sexual assault. Participants included a primarily White female sample of undergraduate students (n = 401) at a south-Atlantic university. They completed a paper-and-pencil survey containing an ambiguous sexual assault encounter where the occupation of the perpetrator (athlete, reporter, college student, or politician) was randomly varied. Participants were asked to classify whether the encounter was sexual assault and what an appropriate punishment might be. Additional measures included the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (IRMA) and questions about personal experience with sexual assault. Overall, most participants labeled the encounter as sexual assault, indicating that college students are aware of the legal parameters for providing consent. However, this classification occurred differentially based on the occupation of the perpetrator. Participants were most likely to label the athlete as committing sexual assault, followed by the college student, politician, and reporter, respectively. Females and those who reject rape myths were more likely to label the scenario as sexual assault. A "personal apology" and a "sexual rehabilitation program" were the most common punishments selected for the perpetrator. These findings highlight potential concerns and the need for additional training when college students adjudicate sexual assault reports and determine appropriate consequences.


Language: en

Keywords

classification of assault; college students; perpetrator; rape myths; sexual assault

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