Seeking Victims of David Delay
Seattle-Area Sex Trafficker Duped Victims With Promise of Fame and Riches
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.”
FBI Seeking Additional Victims
Although the case against Delay is closed and he is serving his 33-year sentence, the FBI is asking victims of his crimes to come forward so we can help them.
If you or someone you know was one of David Delay’s victims, the FBI can connect you to services you are entitled to, such as mental health counseling. If you believe you may be a victim of David Delay, please e-mail ReportDDMC@fbi.gov.
There are 15 known victims in this case, and investigators believe there could be more, both victims of his prostitution scheme, as well as possible victims of child pornography that he may have coerced others into creating.
Because he was posing as a successful Hollywood producer, Delay often used his real name in seeking out his victims. He also used screen names like “Writer3D” and “SeattleWriter.” A few times he posed as a woman using the screen name “Haleybi69” before Comer began to recruit women on his behalf.
“[Delay] is already going to be in prison for a very long time,” said FBI Seattle Victim Specialist Stefanie Hanley. “But it’s really about trying to make right those other wrongs and helping those victims with where they are at and what they have been through, which we can’t do unless they come forward.”
Investigators also believe that for years prior to his “documentary” scheme, Delay may have manipulated other women into sending him nude photos of themselves by promising them love, money, or whatever else they needed. In many cases, once he had an established relationship with a women—and possibly nude photos to blackmail them with—investigators believe that he convinced several women to commit an unthinkable crime: produce pornography of their own children.
David Delay, shown waving cash in a piece of self-promotion, focused on his victims' vulnerabilities and then exploited them, investigators said.
Delay was indicted in 2015 and was convicted last November on 17 charges related to sex trafficking and child pornography. He was sentenced in April to 33 years in prison. Comer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking in 2015 and was later sentenced to three years in prison. Although the case is now closed, the FBI is asking for Delay’s other victims to come forward so they can be provided with services, such as counseling. (See sidebar below).
For the investigative team, getting justice for Delay’s victims was worth the wait and the years of investigative efforts.
“It sends a wonderful message that if you’re willing to come forward, and you’re willing to share your story, that it’s not going to be swept under the rug,” Arbuthnot-Stohl said.
With Comer and Delay both sentenced, Lauren is regaining control of her life. Now 22, she’s pondering her future, hoping to help others who may have found themselves in similar circumstances.
“I just want to let them know that there’s people that care about them and want to help them,” she said.
Protecting Your Children Online
FBI Seattle Special Agent Ingrid Arbuthnot-Stohl, who investigates crimes against children, advises parents to carefully monitor their children on any Internet-connected device and to have open conversations with them about the dangers of the Internet.
“Kids’ brains aren’t fully developed, and they’re willing to take risks that, as adults, we might think twice about,” she said.
She also advises parents to:
- Keep the computer and tablets in a public space, like the family room
- Keep an eye on children’s online behavior, whether on a phone, tablet, or computer
- Set strong parental controls
- Limit screen time through actions like taking a child’s phone and tablet before bedtime
- Encourage your children to talk to you about anything of concern that happens online
“The biggest thing is making sure you have that open line of communication to your child, so that they know, regardless of what has happened, they can come to you with anything,” she said.