Comprehensive Psycho-Sexual Evaluations and Sexual Interest Screening: Two Techniques
John C. Brady, II Ph.D. & Associates*
Licensed Forensic Psychologist, Abel Screening Site Provider, Licensed Affinity Site Provider
* Comprehensive sexual diagnostic and counseling services including 290 sexual registrants
Assessment of Persons Accused of
Sexual Crimes is Unique
- The forensic assessment of defendants accused of sex offenses differs in many ways from other criminal evaluations, i.e. shoplifting, drug abuse, etc.
- First, the inevitable intertwining of the criminal justice system and clinical issues must be addressed.
- Second, specific tests unique to sex offenders must be used.
- Third, these tests, i.e. the Abel Assessment for Sexual Interest-2™ (AASI-2) and the Affinity, provide sexual interest information about the defendant not otherwise available from other psychological inventories.
- The results from these two specialized assessment techniques are not exculpatory but do yield valuable sexual interest data about a defendant unavailable with other paper and pencil tests or methods.
Detecting Sexual Interest in Children
What we know from research about child molesters:
- 5 to 10% of adult males in all socioeconomic groups sexually abuse children or minors.
- 60% of child sexual abusers begin molesting before the age of 18.
- A sexual interest in children, on average, develops by age 13 and can be assessed.
- 95% of the sexual acts against children are committed by people with a chronic sexual interest in children.
- 85% of child sexual abusers show no other psychopathology.
- 90% sexually abuse children in their family or social circle.
- 5% of sexual abusers voluntarily seek help.
- An estimated 4% of child molesters have a criminal background.
Sexual Interest in Children Including Internet Pornography Indicates:
- Arrests for internet child pornography have sky-rocketed since 2008.
- Similarly, arrests for sexual assault (P.C. 242-243.4(a)) and child molestation (P.C. 288(a)) have also dramatically increased.
- 7-17% of women and 3-12% of men report they were touched sexually as a child.
- Identifying possible sexual abusers is of paramount importance within the criminal justice system.
- Often, sexual misconduct accusations are quite ambiguous, vague, or incomplete, are of unknown accuracy, or are misleading.
- Materials from the police including arrest records, alleged victim interviews (including police pretext calls with defendants), as well as information from parents, guardians and friends of accusers are problematic and often not reliable.
- In order to clarify this psycho-legal situation, a comprehensive psycho-sexual interest screening and personality assessment for defendants can help.
A Comprehensive Psycho-Sexual Evaluation and Sexual Interest Screening for a Criminal Defendant Should Include:
- A detailed background and social history.
- A battery of psychological tests, MMPI-2, CPS, SVR-20, STATIC-99, a psychopathic checklist, PCL-R, etc.
- Tests specific to sexual interest and sexual behavior, i.e. the Abel Assessment for Sexual Interest-2™ (AASI-2), the Affinity, or the Multiphasic Sexual Inventory (MSI).
- All testing protocols to include both static (fixed) and dynamic (changeable) psychological factors related to the defendant’s history.
- Recent (post-2000) sexual interest screening, in clinical practice, now relies on client information obtained using visual reaction time calibration.
v The measure of visual reaction time (VRT), or simple reaction time as used in the AASI-2 and the Affinity, involves the person looking at a series of clothed models or drawings (images), each depicting a subject of a specific gender, age and ethnicity. This technique or method of assessment dates back to the work of Rosenzwig (1942), and the following section provides explanatory information concerning visual reaction time assessment.
Visual Reaction Time (VRT or VT)
- Both the Abel (AASI-2) and the more recent Affinity 2.5 (2008) are measures of VRT
- Both are measures of sexual interest, taken beyond the client’s awareness
- Results are presented in the form of sexual interest graphs
- If a sexual interest bar exceeds the scoring line on the graph, this indicates sexual interest in that category.
- Both assessment techniques, the ASSI-2 and the Affinity, follow a long psychological tradition of measuring human interests/preferences (Kuder, 1939 and Strong, 1927) and are therefore not specifically used for clinical diagnostic purposes; the goal is to assess sexual interest, not make a diagnosis.
VRT/VT: Theoretical Constructs
The ASSI-2 and Affinity
- Singer (1984) conceptualized 3 stages of sexual attraction in men:
- 1. Increased visual attraction to a stimulus
- 2. Movement toward a stimulus
- 3. Resulting penile tumescence (genital arousal)
- The visual Reaction Time (VRT) of the AASI-2 and Affinity both assess the 1st stage of attraction.
II. The Following Information Concerns the Abel Sexual Interest Method1
- During the past 20 years, there has been increased interest in a screen for sexual interest, and there was a need for standardized, empirically validated assessment tools to aid in the evaluation of sexual abusers.
- Dr. Abel developed the Abel Assessment for sexual interest (AASI) and its subsequent version, the AASI-2, as the first VRT tool. The Affinity 2.5, detailed here, became available in 2008.
- The AASI and AASI-2 include the objective measure of sexual interest (VRT) and a detailed questionnaire that inquires about problematic sexual behaviors and many of the associated features of child sexual abusers.
1Abel Screening, Inc. 2008
Seven Reasons to use the Abel Assessment for Sexual Interest-2
- Objective and covert measure of sexual interest using normative comparisons
- Comprehensive questionnaire helps clinicians quickly identify sexual behavior problems
- Difficult to fake
- Easy to interpret scales for cognitive distortion, social desirability, and victimization
- Helpful in treatment planning and assessing treatment outcome
- Used over 100,000 times
- Admissible in court / has passed Daubert hearings / CA 9th Circuit
Abel VRT: AASI-2 Administration
- The VRT assessment includes 22 stimulus categories, including children, teens, and adults; male and female; Caucasian and African-American
- Seven images per stimulus category to ensure reliability of responding
- The client sees each image twice:
v View and imagine being sexual with person in image
v Rate image on a scale from sexually disgusting to sexually arousing
AASI-2 Categories of Images
- Preschool children
- Grade school children
- Paraphilias (suggestive indicators)
v Exhibitionism against adult females
v Voyeurism against adult females
v Frottage against adult females
v Sadomasochism against females
v Sadomasochism against males
III. The Following Information Concerns the
Affinity Sexual Interest Method1, 2,
Theory, Development and Use
1D. Glasgow. 2009
2 Dr. Brady is an Affinity Licensed Site Provider
615 South Main Street, Suite 8 n Milpitas, CA 95035 n Tel: 408.263.5313 n Fax: 408.263.0349
Why the Affinity VT is Important
- Using a laptop computer, the Affinity objectively measures the types of persons from eight age and sexual categories in which the client is sexually interested, subdivided by age and gender.
- Difficult to fake.
- Clients may not be aware of their sexual interest in children.
- The Affinity can be used to reduce denial during treatment by confronting the client with sexual interest data.
- The Affinity can be used to measure treatment progress.
- All raw data, graphs, timing frames, and images/photos are available to both the defense and prosecution.