P1: VENDER/LMD/GGT/GCQ P2: GEE/GDP/LOV QC: GCR
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] PP097-298863 March 2, 2001 15:20 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2001
Treatment of Sexual OffendersWho Are in Categorical
Denial: A Pilot Project
W. L. Marshall,
Liam E. Marshall,
Yolanda M. Fernandez,
and Ruth Mann
This paper describes an approach to treatment for sexual offenders who are in
categorical denial. Other efforts to have them, at least partially, admit responsi-
bility had failed and they were to be released from prison without any treatment.
Evidence that suggests denial is not predictive of risk and that treatment may re-
duce the risk of these offenders is reviewed. Essentially, this paper offers a possible
approach to dealing with these intractable deniers which, it is suggested, is better
than not trying to modify their risk, and that may prove to be effective.
KEY WORDS: sexual offender; denial; categorical denial; absolute denial; treatment.
Denial of having committed an offense, or of some aspect of the offense, oc-
curs quite frequently among sexual offenders (Happel & Auffrey, 1995; Maletzky,
1991). However, denial may mean quite different things, depending on how broad
the category of denial is taken to be. For example, some authors speak of denial of
harm (to the victim), denial of responsibility, denial of fantasy or planning, denial
of frequency of offending, and denial of the need for treatment. Schlank and Shaw
(1997) distinguish these types of denial, which other authors (e.g., Barbaree, 1991)
have called “minimization,” from what they call “absolute denial.” We (Marshall,
Anderson, & Fernandez, 1999) refer to this as “categorical denial” by which we
mean the offender categorically states that he did not commit any sexual offense.
We will use the terms absolute and categorical deniers interchangeably to refer
to these men. Categorical denial can be distinguished from the claims of those
Department of Psychology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Bath Institution Sexual Offenders’ Program.
Programme Development Section, HM Prison Service, Abell House, John Islip St., London SW1P
4LH, England, UK.
To whom all correspondence should be addressed at Department of Psychology, Queen’s University,
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada.
2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation