Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Social Work


Sociology, Criminology and Penology.


Fleming, T.




This study examined 243 complaints of sexual assault reported to the Windsor Police Service in 1992. Data was collected on the circumstances of the sexual assault incidents as well as on the characteristics of the sexual assault offenders and victims, to determine if the data fit existing literature on sexual assault in Canada. In general, the findings were consistent with the review of the literature. Nonetheless, a few unique findings did emerge. Results revealed a significant proportion of sexual assault victims under the age of twelve, calling attention to the need for more elementary school-based educational and prevention programs. In addition, the significant proportion of male victims found in this study propels a need to recognize sexual assault as gender-neutral in victimization. Furthermore, the finding that sexual assault frequently occurs over a period of time emphasizes the importance of understanding sexual assault as a multiple-incident occurrence that may substantially differ in effect and/or treatment from single-incident occurrences of sexual assault. Finally, an examination of the nature of attack revealed that sexual assault offenders are primarily opportunists who take advantage of particularly vulnerable targets. Police decision-making in sexual assault complaints was also probed. Findings revealed that police made decisions primarily on the basis of the legal model, which emphasizes a concern with the likelihood of prosecution. Factors that increased the likelihood of successful prosecution influenced officers to proceed with charges, while factors that decreased the likelihood of successful prosecution influenced officers to take no further action beyond initial investigations of complaints, or to unfound complaints. An examination of the filtering process at the police level revealed that nearly 70% of the sexual assault complaints made to the Windsor Police in 1992 did not proceed beyond the police level.Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1994 .S68. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 33-04, page: 1155. Supervisor: Thomas O'Reilly-Fleming. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1994.