Spotlight on Dr. Janet Warren


Dr. Warren is an authority of international stature on sex offenders, extremists, the sexual abuse of minors in youth-serving organizations, prison rape, and more.  She is a Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine with an active research agenda, a close relationship with the FBI, and a wealth of experience as a consultant and testifying expert in litigation.  Park Dietz said of her:

In 1982, when Janet Warren, asked me to mentor her, I knew she was smart, talented, and energetic, but I could not have foreseen her great professional accomplishments.  She is the very embodiment of what was once known as the “triple threat academic,” having proved herself outstanding as a teacher, a researcher, and a clinician, and has for decades had a palpable impact on the worlds of criminal and civil litigation, forensic mental health, criminal investigation, and prisons.

Much of her expert testimony has focused on sexual abuse in foster homes, group homes, and youth-serving organizations and on the varied topics of her research. Some of the best trial lawyers in America have called me to say how much they enjoyed working with Dr. Warren and what a great job she did at trial. 

Professor Warren recently completed a seven-year nation-wide project examining 7,786 incidents of child sexual abuse occurring in youth-serving organizations. The study focused on characteristics of the perpetrator, each victim, interactions between perpetrator and victim, and the circumstances of each incident of abuse. Highlights of the study’s findings include:

  • Perpetrators often offend against only youth who were not involved in the youth-organization
  • The abusive relationships overlap with family relationships
  • Perpetrators were often involved in multiple youth serving organizations at the same time
  • Employment of the perpetrators placed them in schools, in the domain of human services, and in other organizations specifically designed to protect children from harm

One innovation of this project was the creation of an application permitting wireless entry of data from multiple locations into a secure server that can be adapted to facilitate information sharing between different youth serving organizations.

Beginning in 2017, Professor Warren was funded by the National Institute of Justice to study women involved in either jihadist or alt-right extremist violence. This research, which is being conducted in association with the FBI Counter-terrorism Behavioral Analysis Unit, will include the risk coding of 300 female extremist-involved women. A segment of the project will also examine the differences in the risk analyses that occurs when classified information is used as contrasted when the assessment is based solely on public source information. 

Professor Warren has worked with the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Units for the past 25 years and has been involved in the development of paradigms relevant to the criminal investigative analyses of sexual offenders, including distinctions between impulsive versus ritualistic sex offenders, and the elements of modus operandi, ritual, and signature displayed in an offender’s crime scene behavior. She has collaborated with the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime in conducting research on the crime scene analysis of serial rape, sexually sadistic murder, and the crime behavior of individuals convicted of child abduction and murder. She also serves as the UVA liaison to the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). In this role, she reviews all course content offered by the BAU as part of the FBI’s 10-week National Academy program to senior national and international law enforcement officers, which is offered at the FBI Headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, multiple times each year.

In 2007, Professor Warren received funding from the National Institute of Justice to conduct a three-year study of sexual violence and victimization in prison in response to the passing of the Prison Rape Elimination Act. This research resulted in the publication of a book in 2013, Risk Markers for Sexual Predation and Victimization in Prison, which explored risk markers for coerced, bartered, and consensual sex in prison for both male and female inmates. She has since conducted research in state prisons assessing the impact of the PREA laws on sexual coercion and assault in prison and has written on the use of risk assessment paradigms in the assessment of prison violence.

Professor Warren has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals on the nature and outcome of forensic evaluations conducted for the courts, clinical and criminological factors associated with expert opinions concerning competency to stand trial and sanity, restoration of defendants found incompetent to stand trial, consistency and change in the crime behavior of serial rapists, age related preferences of perpetrators of child abduction and murder, crime scene analysis of sexually-sadistic crimes, the motivations and collecting behavior of sexually sadistic murderers, the geographical profiling of serial rape, patterns of escalation from rape to murder, risk factors for prison physical and sexual violence, gender differences in violence risk assessment, the association between personality disorders and violent behavior, structural differences in psychopathy in men and women, prison adjustment among female inmates, psychiatric conditions among incarcerated women, patterns of sexual offending by women, linkage analysis involving serial sexual crimes, juvenile adjudicative competency, and reported outcomes for community-based competency remediation programs for juveniles.

Many of her publications derived from research funding awarded by the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Virginia Department of Corrections, and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Professor Warren holds BSW and MSW degrees from the University of Manitoba, Canada, and a Doctorate in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a clinical social worker licensed by the Virginia Board of Social Work (1988), a Sex Offender Treatment Provider (1994) licensed by the Virginia Board of Psychology, and a psychoanalyst (2001) accredited by the Contemporary Freudian Society, New York and Washington, D.C.