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Previous research suggests that public opinion about crime is nuanced as it has been found to vary greatly depending upon the type of questions asked and the amount of information provided. Few have similarly examined the complexity of public attitudes specifically about sex crimes. A survey was administered to a sample of U. S. residents utilizing the factorial survey method. The results suggested that specific details about the offense, offender, and victim had a significant effect on perceptions. The findings point to discrepancies between policy and public opinion, as well as to the importance of educating the public about the realities of sexual offending and victimization.

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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Victims & Offenders, published by Routledge, available online at doi: 10.1080/15564886.2015.1005266 . Copyright restrictions may apply.