Purdue University Graduate School
Final_Dissertation_Document_Revision2.pdf (64.33 MB)

The DVL in the Details: Assessing Differences in Decoy, Victim, and Law Enforcement Chats with Online Sexual Predators

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posted on 2021-07-29, 18:25 authored by Tatiana Renae RingenbergTatiana Renae Ringenberg
Online sexual solicitors are individuals who deceptively earn the trust of minors online with the goal of eventual sexual gratification. Despite the prevalence of online solicitation, conversations in the domain are difficult to acquire due to the sensitive nature of the data. As a result, researchers studying online solicitors often study conversations between solicitors and decoys which are publicly available online. However, researchers have begun to believe such conversations are not representative of solicitor-victim conversations. Decoys and law enforcement are restricted in that they are unable to initiate contact, suggest meeting, or begin sexual conversations with an offender. Additionally decoys and law enforcement officers both have a goal of gathering evidence which means they often respond positively in contexts which would normally be considered awkward or inappropriate. Multiple researchers have suggested differences may exist between offender-victim and offender-decoy conversations and yet little research has sought to identify the differences and similarities between those talking to solicitors. In this study, the author identifies differences between decoys, officers, and victims within the manipulative process used by online solicitors to entrap victims which is known as grooming. The author looks at differences which occur within grooming stages and strategies within the grooming stages. The research in this study has implications for the data choices of future researchers in this domain. Additionally, this research may be used to inform the training process of officers who will engage in online sex stings.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Technology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Julia Rayz

Additional Committee Member 2

Marcus Rogers

Additional Committee Member 3

Christian Hempelmann