Seattle-Area Sex Trafficker Duped Victims With Promise of Fame and Riches
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An 18-year-old Seattle-area high school student looking for a relationship online found herself entangled with master manipulators who coerced her into prostitution with promises of fame, money, and love.

Lauren (not her real name) met Marysa Comer on a dating website in 2014 and quickly hit it off—so much so that she left home to move in with Comer and her business partner, David Delay, in Lynnwood, Washington. Delay, 52, and Comer, 24, claimed they had a deal with a major TV production company to produce a documentary about why prostitution should be legal. Each participant would receive $20 million.

“I just thought, ‘I will have a lot of money and I’ll be around people that care about me,’” Lauren said. “I just thought that sounded great.”

At first they treated her well, giving her attention and buying her things, but that was simply setting her up for manipulation to come. Soon after, they coerced her—through various forms of abuse—into signing a contract to participate in the documentary. The contract required Lauren and other victims to work as prostitutes and to be interviewed about their experiences.

“I think I was just kind of in shock, and I didn’t really know what to think of it. I just wanted to be cared about. I wanted a person to care about me and to be loved,” Lauren said. “So, at that point, I just didn’t really know what to do.”

After a few months of being trafficked all over the country by Delay, Lauren escaped and returned to her family. But Comer lashed out, hacking into Lauren’s social media account and harassing her family. That’s when Lauren and her mother went to the Redmond Police Department for help.

As the Redmond Police and the FBI’s Seattle Division began looking into Delay, they realized that not only had Lauren’s story checked out but there were also other victims (see sidebar) who Delay had lured using the same approach—the promise of money and fame from appearing in a documentary on prostitution.

“He showed them what looked like legitimate contracts and had them sign nondisclosure agreements so they couldn’t tell their friends and family about it,” said FBI Seattle Special Agent Ingrid Arbuthnot-Stohl, who investigated the case. “If they tried to get out of their contract or leave, he would threaten to sue them for breach of contract, so that kept actually quite a few of the victims in line.”

While certainly not a Hollywood powerhouse, Delay had a few production credits and online videos to his name that he used to lure girls and women into his orbit. He posed for photos outside of television studios and used realistic-looking contracts. While he claimed the women would receive huge payouts after the documentary aired, he required the women to pay him “production fees” in the form of some or all of their prostitution earnings.

“He always picked individuals who were vulnerable,” said Redmond Police Department Detective Natalie D’Amico, who also worked the case. “If somebody wanted a relationship or just to feel love, he’d promise that. So he really focused on whatever vulnerability that specific victim had.”

As a detective investigating sex crimes, D’Amico noted that human trafficking victims are typically controlled through physical abuse or access to drugs, but in this case, Delay simply used manipulation tactics.

“I think it is very unique, as this was primarily done through coercion and fraud,” she said. “Deceit using contracts and the promise of fame and money—that was unlike anything I’ve ever heard of before.”



Comments:
The oldest trick in the book, hollow promises
Posted by Chevy at 9/6/2018 1:28:50 PM

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