From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Park Dietz (born 1948) is a forensic psychiatrist and criminologist who was educated at Cornell (AB, cum laude in Psychology with Distinction in All Subjects, 1970), Johns Hopkins (M.D., 1975; M.P.H., 1975; Ph.D. (Sociology), 1984; Assistant Resident, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1975-77), and the University of Pennsylvania (Resident and Chief Fellow in Forensic Psychiatry, 1977-78). He was elected to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, and Alpha Omega Alpha honorary societies and is a member of Theta Delta Chi and Sigma Pi social fraternities.
After completing his residency and fellowship training, he served as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and then as both Professor of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry and Professor of Law, at the University of Virginia. As a full-time academic at Harvard Medical School and then at the University of Virginia Schools of Law and Medicine, he contributed over 100 publications to the scholarly literature, including seminal works on the epidemiology of violence, sex crimes, and the stalking of public figures. He is now a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA School of Medicine, where he continues his contributions to the scientific literature.
Dr. Dietz is the founder and head of both Threat Assessment Group, Inc. (the first company devoted to the prevention of violence in the workplace) and the forensic consulting firm of Park Dietz & Associates, Inc., both of which are headquartered in Newport Beach, California. He has unrivaled experience in cases involving multiple victim homicides (e.g., workplace, school, family, and stranger mass murders; sexual serial killings; and, serial killings with bombs or poisons). He is widely sought after as a consultant in civil litigation arising from criminal behavior, including threats, violence, and sex crimes in workplaces, educational institutions, organizations, and residential properties, and in claims of negligent hiring, supervision, and security. He has testified and/or consulted in all 50 of the United States, and has participated in the cases of: Jeffrey Dahmer, John Hinckley, Andrea Yates, Deana Laney, Susan Smith, Cary Stayner, Polly Klaas, the Menendez Brothers (retrial), John DuPont, The Unabomber, the New York Zodiac, and the Prom Mom Case; the shootings at the Empire State Building and the U.S. Capitol; the DC sniper cases; the school shootings at Columbine and elsewhere; workplace violence cases of every description; clergy sexual abuse cases; and many other major cases of the last 30 years.
Dr. Dietz is a Past President of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law; a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association; and, a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is a forensic psychiatrist for both the FBI's Behavioral Assessment Unit and the New York State Police Forensic Sciences Unit. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Trauma Research, has conducted numerous studies of sex offenders, mentally disordered offenders, and violent criminals, directed a five-year study for the National Institute of Justice on mentally disordered offenders who threaten and stalk public figures, and headed a two-year privately funded study of risks to the children and families of executives and other public figures.
Dr. Dietz contributed to the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography as a commissioner recommended by the White House and appointed by the Attorney General of the United States. His personal statement in that Commission's report was widely circulated for years, and the report’s appendix included a study Dietz had published on detective magazines with bondage covers. His work on the Commission resulted in the improbable outcomes of his being selected as the spokesperson for the Commission by a Christian coalition while being hailed by Playboy as “a genius in forensic psychiatry.”
One of the more interesting chapters in his career arose from the discovery that classified ads published in Soldier of Fortune magazine were being used to hire hit men and other criminals. Dietz attended the annual Soldier of Fortune convention both before and after testifying in one of the wrongful death lawsuits against the magazine, and Editor-in-Chief Robert K. Brown personally barred Dietz, a competitive shooter, from shooting in the International 3-Gun Tactical Match sponsored by the magazine.
After contributing to a peaceful resolution of the hostilities at Ruby Ridge, where subjects had barricaded themselves after a shootout with U.S. Marshalls, Dietz was invited to assist the FBI in the standoff with the Branch Davidians at Waco. Unable to persuade the FBI to take the role of neutral investigators of the shootout with ATF, Dietz returned home to watch the tragedy unfold on TV.
Dietz has a long history of pioneering innovations. His commentary in the media regarding his research on threats toward public figures put stalking on the map as a previously neglected phenomenon. He founded Threat Assessment Group to combat workplace violence before the phrases “workplace violence” or “threat assessment” were in common use, spawning an entire cottage industry of consultants. A series of studies done in collaboration with former FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood and University of Virginia Professor Janet Warren provide the definitive research on sexually sadistic offenders, including sexual sadistic serial killers. He founded the world’s first multidisciplinary forensic group which operates under the name Park Dietz & Associates, offering forensic experts in psychiatry, psychology, social work, neurology, pathology, medicine, surgery, criminology, security, toxicology, and every forensic science found in a modern crime laboratory.
The breadth of Dietz’s expertise has led some cross-examiners to attack him for knowing about too many topics, knowing about obscure and embarrassing topics (e.g., autoerotic asphyxiation, about which he coauthored the definitive book, Autoerotic Fatalities), or having once given a mistaken account of a TV show in response to a surprise question during cross-examination. None of these desperate measures to undermine his credibility has had a perceptible impact on his persuasive power before juries. Known as “the expert’s expert ,” Dietz may be the most successful expert witness in history.
Dr. Dietz's work is often cited in scholarly and popular writings, and he has been the subject of profiles on “60 Minutes II” and in the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, Psychology Today, Biography, and other national publications. He has also consulted on films (“The Bodyguard,” "Copycat," "Kiss the Girls," “Primal Fear,” "Turbulence," and “What Lies Beneath”) and TV series, including "Law and Order," “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” and “CSI.” In a documentary called Conversations with Killers, Dr. Dietz recalls his encounters with criminals and in “The Iceman and the Psychiatrist” he interviews the late Mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski.