The defendant used social media to lure vulnerable teenagers and young women to Seattle with “false promises of fame and fortune” and a starring role in an HBO documentary on human trafficking he claimed to be filming.
A Lynnwood man was sentenced Thursday to 33 years in prison for posing as a documentary film producer to lure girls and young women into prostitution.
A federal jury in Seattle took just 90 minutes in November to convict David D. Delay, 52, of 17 felonies, including conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking of a juvenile through force, fraud or coercion, and three counts of sex trafficking of adults through force, fraud or coercion. He also was convicted of two counts of production of child pornography and obstruction.
“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 Lasnik said during the sentencing hearing.
Prosecutors said Delay and Marysa Comer, 23, of Matthews, N.C., used social media to target vulnerable teenagers and young women, luring them to Seattle with “false promises of fame and fortune” and a starring role in an HBO documentary on human trafficking they claimed to be filming, according to court pleadings.
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To persuade his victims, Delay would send them forged bank-account screenshots allegedly depicting profits from previous films, and a photograph of himself outside of an HBO office. They would be asked to sign realistic-looking contracts, prosecutors said.
Once in Seattle, purportedly as part of the documentary, Delay would coerce the women into prostitution. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Delay “manipulated them emotionally and psychologically, isolated them (and) established their complete dependency on him.”
In some instances, he would use the contracts the women and girls had signed to threaten legal action unless they complied with his demands.
Delay “also enticed minor victims to produce graphic pornographic photographs and videos for him, in once instance threatening to release sexually explicit video images of a victim unless she complied with his demands,” prosecutors said.
Seven of the victims testified during Delay’s trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote in a news release.
An HBO representative testified during the trial that the company did not have any business dealings with Delay, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Comer pleaded guilty to a single count of sex-trafficking conspiracy and cooperated with investigators. She was sentenced to three years in prison in December.
Lasnik also ordered Delay to pay $76,700 in restitution to his victims, plus additional costs for counseling and medical care.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this story.