Defendant Posed as HBO Documentary Film Producer to Recruit his Victims, and then used Blackmail and Threats to Coerce them to Work as Prostitutes
A 52-year old Lynnwood, Washington man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 33 years in prison for his predatory and exploitive scheme to recruit young women and teens to prostitution for his own enrichment, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. DAVID D. DELAY was convicted of 17 federal felonies following a ten-day jury trial in November 2017. At today’s sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said “He deserves a long sentence and a sentence that sends a message to the community that these crimes will not be tolerated.”
“The long prison sentence imposed in this case is just punishment for the devastating impact this defendant had on his victims,” said U.S. Attorney Hayes “As they bravely testified in court, the defendant’s conduct left his victims with deep and lasting emotional scars. There simply is no place in civilized society for the kind of sexual exploitation that this defendant engaged in without so much as a second thought.”
“Delay used fraud and fear against vulnerable young women and girls to coerce them into commercial sex, turning them into sexual commodities for his own profit,” said Acting Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously pursue sex traffickers and today’s sentence is an example of our ongoing efforts to hold traffickers accountable for their horrific crimes and vindicate the rights of their victims.”
According to evidence presented in court, including the testimony of seven victims, the defendant targeted vulnerable teenagers and young women in their early 20s by claiming to be a famous film producer with a multi-million dollar contract from HBO to produce a documentary on prostitution. Delay enticed his victims, several of whom he convinced to travel across the country to be with him, into working for him as prostitutes by falsely claiming that they would make up to $20 million by participating in his documentary. In order to convince the victims that his assertions were true, DELAY sent them falsified bank account screenshots supposedly depicting the profits of his other films, a photograph of himself outside of an HBO office, and seemingly official, binding contracts that he asked them to sign that obligated them to pay him over a thousand dollars per week in prostitution proceeds. DELAY falsely promised some of his victims that he was negotiating for them to star in a reality television show produced by Ryan Seacrest. Representatives from HBO and Ryan Seacrest Productions testified that the companies did not have any business dealings with DELAY.
Once the victims arrived in Seattle, the defendant coerced them into prostituting themselves for his profit. He manipulated them emotionally, psychologically, and sexually; isolated them; made them completely dependent on him; and in some instances threatened legal action against them, falsely claiming that the victims had violated their contracts and were subject to civil penalties. In furtherance of his sex trafficking scheme, the defendant also enticed two minor victims to produce graphic pornographic photographs and videos for him, and in two instances threatened to release sexually explicit video images of his victims unless they complied with his demands.
“The FBI remains committed to working with federal, state and local partners to combat such egregious criminal activities " said Special Agent in Charge Jay Tabb, of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office. “In this case, the FBI worked closely with the Redmond Police Department and the US Attorney’s Office to get survivors the help they need, and traffickers the justice they deserve. Given the complexity of Mr. Delay’s criminal schemes, our team included multiple experts all working as part of the Child Exploitation Task Force, a unit which continues to identify other victims and predators so we can disrupt cycles of abuse. ”
“We are proud of the excellent work done by the Redmond Police in partnership with the FBI. Our close working relationship with our law enforcement partners allowed us to bring the needed resources to bear to ensure the defendant was arrested and convicted of his crimes,” said Redmond Police Chief K. Wilson.
Judge Lasnik ordered DELAY to pay $76,700 in restitution to his victims, plus additional costs for counseling and medical care. Following prison DELAY must register as a sex offender and will be on supervised release for the rest of his life. Because DELAY has continued to harass his victims on social media, the judge requested the prison system and U.S. Probation limit his access to social media and computers.
Co-defendant Marysa Comer, 23, of Matthews, North Carolina, previously pleaded guilty on November 16, 2015, to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking for her role in Delay’s scheme. She was sentenced to 36 months in prison on December 1, 2017.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Seattle Field Office and the Redmond Police Department, along with assistance from the FBI’s Chicago Field Office, the King County Sheriff’s Office, the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, the Beaverton, Oregon Police Department, and the Bureau of Prisons. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Crisham and Trial Attorney Matthew Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.