Term of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Name

Master of Science, Criminal Justice and Criminology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology

Committee Chair

Stacie St. Louis, PhD

Committee Member 1

Amanda Graham, PhD

Committee Member 2

Kristina Thompson, PhD


This study investigates the impact victim characteristics, such as age and gender, have on sentencing outcomes in school employee sexual abuse and misconduct cases (SESAM). The surge in media coverage on SESAM has brought attention to the issue of sexual predation within educational institutions. However, despite the public’s growing concern, there is limited empirical research on the outcomes of SESAM in the criminal justice system. This study addresses this gap by analyzing data obtained from the National Educator Sexual Misconduct Database (2008-2010) which includes cases involving physical sexual contact between school staff members and students from 13 to 18 years of age. Applying an intersectional approach to focal concerns theory and victim-blaming theories, this study analyzes how victim age and sex interact to influence sentencing outcomes. Controlling for defendant demographics and charging information, regressions and comparisons are used to assess the probability of incarceration and expected sentence lengths of school employees convicted of victimizing teenage students. The groups of students are divided into four groups, including young males, young females, older males, and older females. The results show that there are significant differences in sentencing outcomes among the groups of student-victims, and indicate that the resolution of SESAM cases are influenced by the student-victim’s sex and age. This study contributes to a better understanding of how SESAM cases are sentenced in courts and provides important insight that may inform policies to better prevent and intervene in such cases.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


Available for download on Wednesday, April 18, 2029