Amelie Pedneault will receive a Governor General's Gold Medal at the 2016 June convocation ceremonies for her top scholastic standing among SFU graduate students.

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Shedding new light on sex offenders' crimes reveals surprises

June 06, 2016
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Amelie Pedneault’s groundbreaking research into sexual offenders’ crimes led to a surprising discovery: sexual offenders are less likely to re-offend if they have been interrupted during an offence and are unable to complete it. She also found that incarceration rarely deters sex offenders from committing more crimes.

Pedneault, who convocated last October with a PhD in criminology and a straight-A grade point average (a 4.0 GPA) will receive a Governor General’s gold medal at this month’s convocation for her top scholastic standing.

Her outstanding thesis research, “An Analysis of Decision-making and Criminal Outcomes in Sexual Offenders,” attracted considerable interest among criminologists. During the course of her doctoral studies she presented her research findings at 13 international conferences, including eight presentations to the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers—a top association in her field. As well, she was first author on four papers published in some of the field’s top academic journals.

Pedneault’s unique research, which analyzed and coded data for 898 male sex offenders, could have tremendous implications for how society deals with sex offenders, says her supervisor, professor Eric Beauregard.

“Despite public opinion in favor of more punishment for sex offenders and more serious consequences, such as residence restrictions, community notification and legislator actions, Amelie's findings seriously question the notion that negative outcomes for sex offenders can serve as a deterrent against future crimes,” he says.

Pedneault is now an assistant professor at Washington State University. Her high grades and exceptional research landed her the job before she had even defended her dissertation.

“I’m grateful for my time at SFU and specifically with the Centre for Research on Sexual Violence. My supervisor, Dr. Eric Beauregard, offered unwavering support throughout my doctoral journey and allowed me to ask challenging questions and test a variety of hypotheses. I have learned a lot from him.”

“I will continue my research to better understand the thought process involved in sexually violent decisions. Understanding what cues are considered and discarded in these decisions has the potential to prevent sexual abuse. Harm reduction is the ultimate goal in my line of research.”