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Abstract

This study was designed to examine bias in legal judgments based on sexual orientation and gender of the offender in statutory rape cases. In this study, 117 participants, with a mean age of 22, were presented with scenarios depicting male and female offenders in consensual statutory rape situations and asked to rate the offenders' innocence or guilt and provide punishment recommendations. Scales assessing homosexuality, gender role attitudes, and general attitudes towards sex offenders were computed. Results indicated that male offenders were judged more harshly than female offenders, regardless of sexual orientation. Additionally, participants who reported positive attitudes towards homosexuals judged the scenario offenders more harshly than participants who indicated more negative attitudes towards homosexuals. These findings provide further support for the presence of gender biases in courtroom situations but contradict previous findings that homophobic attitudes influence courtroom biases.

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