Arrest and Prosecution of Animal Sex Abuse (Bestiality) Offenders in the United States, 1975-2015.J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 2019; 47(3):335-346JA
Bestiality is an uncomfortable topic about which there is limited scientific literature. Prevalence research has focused on self-reported acts, and no research has established the actual frequency and nature of deliberate sex acts with animals. This quantitative, descriptive study examined 456 arrests for bestiality-related incidents in the United States from 1975 to 2015 to explore patterns of offending, offender characteristics, and how cases were adjudicated. The results suggest that animal sex offending may be linked to other criminal behavior, and involves a spectrum of sexual acts, including coercive, violent, and non-violent penetration; solicitation for sex with animals; and deviant behavior including torture and necrophilia. Findings of concern were that 31.6% of animal sex offenders also sexually offended against children and adults; 52.9% had a prior or subsequent criminal record involving human sexual abuse, animal abuse, interpersonal violence, substances, or property offenses; and only 39.1% of arrests involving the direct sexual abuse of animals resulted in prosecution. The broad range of sexual assault patterns and varied legal outcomes suggest that bestiality is more pervasive and more serious than previously thought and point to a need for additional research to aid in detection, intervention, sentencing, treatment, and supervision methods.