According to Groth, child molesters can be divided into two types: “fixated” and “regressed.” The fixated offender is attracted primarily to children and has little or no interest in adult relationships; such a person is known in clinical terms as a “pedophile.” The regressed offender is interested in and capable of adult sexual relationships; however, this person may on occasion regress to sexual encounters with children, often as a result of difficulties and frustration in his adult relationships.15
Groth writes that the fixated offender, or pedophile, tends to select boys more often than girls, but for reasons having nothing to do with homosexuality:
In general, fixated child molesters are drawn to children sexually in that they identify with the child and appear in some ways to want to remain children themselves. It is for this reason that the trend for fixated offenders is to target boys as victims. . . . They see the boy as a projected representation of themselves. They feel themselves to be more child than adult – more boys than men – and therefore find themselves more comfortable (especially sexually) in the company of children. . . .16
Groth stresses that “these same individuals are uninterested in adult homosexual relationships. In fact, they frequently express a strong sexual aversion to adult males, reporting that what they find attractive about the immature boy are his feminine features and the absence of secondary sexual characteristics such as body hair and muscles.”17 The second type of offender, the regressed offender, is predominantly heterosexual. However, he may temporarily turn to boys or girls as a result of complications in his adult relations.18 Although regressed offenders are more likely to choose girls than boys as victims, writes Groth, what attracts the regressed male offender to boys are the feminine characteristics of pre‑ pubescents. Groth found no cases of boy molestation in which the offender had an adult homosexual orientation.
Homosexuality and homosexual pedophilia are not synonymous. In fact, it may be that these two orientations are mutually exclusive, the reason being that the homosexual male is sexually attracted to masculine qualities whereas the heterosexual male is sexually attracted to feminine characteristics, and the sexually immature child’s qualities are more feminine than masculine. . . . The child offender who is attracted to and engaged in adult sexual relationships is heterosexual. It appears, therefore, that the adult heterosexual male constitutes a greater sexual risk to underage children than does the adult homosexual male.19
This finding is consistent with other research studies on the phenomenon of pedophilia. These studies stress that what the pedophile seeks are the qualities of “childness,” such as small stature, hairlessness, and an innocent, trusting disposition; the maleness or femaleness of the child is secondary.23