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Sex Offending as a Psychosocial Sequela of Traumatic Brain Injury

Simpson, Grahame MA; Blaszczynski, Alex PhD; Hodgkinson, Adeline MBBS, FACRM

The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: December 1999 - Volume 14 - Issue 6 - p 567–580
Focus on Clinical Research and Practice, Part 2

Objective: To describe the nature and extent of sexual offending after traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Design: Retrospective file review.

Setting: A brain injury unit providing inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services.

Participants: A review of five years of admissions to the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit (N = 477) identified a sample of 29 males who committed 128 incidents of sex offending.

Main Outcome Measures: A protocol to record data on demographic, injury, radiological, and psychosocial variables and offending behaviors.

Results: Of the total population of 445 clients with TBI, 6.5% (n = 29) were identified as having committed some form of sexual offense. Alcohol was a factor in only three (2.3%) of the incidents, and only two clients had a preinjury history of sexual offending. The most common offenses were the “touching” offenses, followed by exhibitionism and overt sexual aggression. Staff members were the most common targets of the offenses, followed by members of the general public, other people with TBI, and family members.

Conclusions: Sex offending is a significant clinical problem among a small minority of men after TBI. The absence of alcohol and preinjury histories of sexual offending suggest that the brain injury and contingent sequelae were a significant etiological factor underlying the offenses. A number of implications for the clinical management of clients with sexually aberrant behaviors is identified and discussed.

Social Work Team Leader, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Liverpool Hospital (Simpson)

Associate Professor, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia (Blaszczynski)

Director, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Liverpool Hospital, New South Wales, Australia (Hodgkinson)

Address correspondence to Grahame Simpson, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Liverpool Hospital, Locked Bag 7103, Liverpool BC, New South Wales, Australia 1871, email Thanks to Jonathon Andrews, Sally Wortley, Iain Rodgers, and Sharee Lussick for assistance with data collection. Thanks to Robyn Tate for her comments.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.