Michael M . . . A recent study conducted by researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology, or RIT, is already being cited in Federal Court cases to support the false presumption of a high rate of unreported child molestations by those convicted of child pornography offenses. This is despite the fact that it suffers from exactly the same serious flaws and inaccuracies as the infamous and thoroughly discredited “Butner Redux” study, which first appeared in the Journal of Family Violence in 2009.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the Butner Redux controversy, here are some of the basics. There were actually two studies conducted at FCI Butner. The “First Butner Study”, a preliminary study done in 2000, suggested a significantly higher rate of hands-on offenses among the population of child pornography offenders than had been known at the time of sentencing. That study involved just sixty-two people in a Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) group, whose crimes “involved the production, distribution, receipt, and possession of child pornography, or involved luring a child and traveling across state lines to sexually abuse a child.”
Butner Study Redux, or the second study, was conducted between 2002 and 2005. It began with 201 SOTP participants and concluded with 155. The 46 exclusions were for voluntary withdrawals, expulsions, and one death. The results of the study suggested that at sentencing, 26% of the study subjects were known to have committed a hands-on offense against a minor. By the end of their SOTP treatment, 85% had admitted to molesting at least one child. The study’s conclusions were widely circulated in the media and cited by prosecutors in court cases to justify longer prison terms for CP defendants.
Almost immediately, the Butner studies came under intense scrutiny and criticism for institutional bias, sloppy methodology, misrepresentational sampling, flawed data gathering, and subject coercion.
First, let’s examine how this “peer reviewed study” first appeared in the Journal of Family Violence. From their submission guidelines: “Pay $3000 for Springer Open Choice [Plan] to have articles made available with full, open access.” The guidelines also state, “All manuscripts are assigned to an editor who will manage the external peer review process. The Journal encourages authors to recommend individuals who could be considered as reviewers [and] are given the opportunity to request the exclusion… of individuals.” In other words, the author gets to pick who does – and doesn’t – conduct the so-called “peer review.”