John Wayne Gacy, perhaps the most infamous example of an ephebophilic serial killer.

An ephebophile is a person who is primarily attracted to late- or post-adolescents, or children who have gone through puberty and have advanced signs of adult sexual maturation. Generally, this means teenagers and preteens between 15 and 19 years old.[1]

The term and classification has some overlap or even confusion with the term "hebephilia", which refers to the primary attraction to starting adolescents ages 11-14.

Etymology

The term's origins revolve around the times of ancient Greece. It comes from ἔφηβος (ephebos), variously defined as "one arrived at puberty", "a youth of eighteen who underwent his dokimasia and was registered as a citizen (Athens)", and "arriving at man's estate"; and φιλία (-philia), which is derived from -phil-, implying love or strong friendship.

The term was described by Frenchman Félix Buffière and Pakistani scholar Tariq Rahman. Both argued that ephebophilia should be especially used with regard to homosexuality while describing the erotic interest of adult men in adolescent boys in classical Persian, Turkish, or Urdu literature. The term was additionally revived by Ray Blanchard as a denotation for adults who sexually prefer people aged between 15 and 19.

According to researchers, the terms ephebophilia and hebephilia, or erotic interest centered on young pubescents, have not come into widespread use, even among professionals who work with sex offenders, and can easily be confused with one or the other. It was concluded that such erotic interests were classified by only a few as a mental disorder like pedophilia. Regardless, the modern-day model of an adolescent-attracted perpetrator is a recognized part of profiling offender psychology.

Perpetrator Profile

Late- or post-adolescents usually have physical characteristics near (or, in some cases, identical) to that of fully-grown adults. Psychiatrist and sexologist Fred Berlin states that, as a result, most men can find people in this age group sexually attractive. He goes on to add that some men who are involved with teenagers may not have a particular disorder driving their actions and there could be other factors at play.

Ephebophilia is used only to describe the preference for late- or post-adolescent sexual partners, not the mere presence of a level of sexual attraction. Generally, the preference is not regarded by psychologists as a psychopathology when it does not interfere with other major areas of one's life, and is not listed by name as a mental disorder or as a paraphilia. However, the sexual preference can sometimes be diagnosed as a disorder if it results in dysfunction or exploitative behavior.

On Criminal Minds

Ephebophiles on the show.

  • Season One
    • Jacob Dawes ("Riding the Lightning") - A prolific, ephebophilic and hebephilic serial killer, and abductor who killed at least 18 blonde teenage girls (female preference).
  • Season Two
    • William M. Lee ("Aftermath") - An ephebophilic serial rapist, stalker, and one-time indirect killer who initially targeted Caucasian teenage girls (female preference).
    • Robert Wilkinson ("Birthright") - An ephebophilic serial killer, rapist, and abductor who targeted Caucasian teenage girls who were runaways and drug addicts (female preference).
    • Charlie Wilkinson ("Birthright") - The son of the above Robert Wilkinson who committed almost identical crimes to his father (female preference).
  • Season Four
    • Benjamin Cyrus ("Minimal Loss") - An ephebophilic statutory rapist, cult leader, and later attempted murderer who consensually molested several underaged girls and even married one (female preference).
    • The Soul Mates ("Soul Mates") - A duo of ephebophilic serial rapists-turned-killers and abductors who targeted female college students (female preference).
  • Season Five
    • Robert Reimann ("Cradle to Grave") - An ephebophilic serial killer, rapist, and abductor who would abduct rape, and eventually kill blonde teenage runaways in an effort to 'recreate' he and his wife's lost son Michael (female preference)
    • Robert Matthew Burke ("...A Thousand Words") - An ephebophilic serial rapist-turned killer and abductor who targeted Caucasian teenage girls (female preference).
  • Season Six
    • Robert Bremmer ("Out of the Light") - An ephebophilic serial killer, rapist, and abductor who targeted blonde Caucasian teenage girls who reminded him of deceased stepdaughter (female preference).
  • Season Seven
    • Ben Bradstone ("Proof") - A "wound-collector"-type ephebophilic serial killer, rapist, stalker, abductor, and enucleator who targeted blue-eyed, blonde, Caucasian teenage girls who reminded him of Lyla Smith, the object of his rage (female preference).
    • Margaret Hallman ("I Love You, Tommy Brown") - An ephebophilic statutory rapist-turned-spree killer and one-time abductor who consensually raped two teenage boys (male preference).
  • Season Eight
  • Season Eleven
    • The Outlaw Bikers ("Outlaw") - A team of ephebophilic robbers, rapists, and killers who robbed several places with teenage staff and would rape the females (female preference).
    • Matthew Franks ("Pariahville") - An ephebophilic serial killer, stalker, and abductor who killed girls who had cheerleader outfits (female preference).
  • Season Fourteen
    • Ethan Howard ("The Tall Man") - An ephebophilic statutory rapist and abductor who targeted girls who were going through a hard time in their life (female preference).

Real-World

Real-world ephebophiles.

References

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