Lynnwood man sentenced to 33 years for sex trafficking scheme targeting young women

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    Court exhibit showing David Delay outside HBO offices. (Photo courtesy DOJ)

    A Lynnwood man was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Thursday for a sex trafficking scheme targeting teens and young women while he posed as a film producer, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

    The man, 52-year-old David D. Delay, was convicted of 17 felonies related to the scheme in November 2017. He was sentenced on Thursday.

    “He deserves a long sentence and a sentence that sends a message to the community that these crimes will not be tolerated,” U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said.

    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.

    “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 Annette L. 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 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, according to a Department of Justice release.

    “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.”

    Once the victims arrived in Seattle, Delay coerced them into prostituting themselves for his profit. Two minors were also coerced into producing pornographic photos and videos.

    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 Nov. 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 Dec. 1, 2017.

    For more from our online news partner The Seattle Times, click here.

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