- post by: #TooRealForTV
- April 08, 2017
A hacker, a sex trafficker and a fake filmmaker go to jail
Strange turns in prosecution of teen prostitution scheme driven by bogus HBO documentary
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A charming sex trafficker, an alleged child pornographer and a hacker walk into a jail …
Comer, now 22, appears to have lost her chance at an easier ride on a sex-trafficking rap against her and Delay, a 51-year-old Lynnwood man accused of coaxing young women into prostitution by posing as a documentarian
Indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle, Delay could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted on the 17 counts against him. Among the allegations are claims that he produced child pornography and engaged in sex trafficking.
Comer has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge related to sex trafficking. She had been enjoying a degree of freedom at a Tacoma halfway house. That changed Wednesday, when a federal judge returned her to jail for, among other things, corresponding with a hacker sharing a jail wing with her former beau, Delay. Comer was also caught sending text messages to young offenders recently released from Washington’s juvenile detention system.
Prosecutors claim Delay coaxed his family into harassing Comer, and that he did so himself when the two crossed paths at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center.
Now, as trial nears for Delay, his attorneys are pushing to suppress potentially damning electronic records seized during the investigation. Federal prosecutors plan to take their claims that Delay trafficked a girl and three young women while promising they would get rich once his documentarywrapped.
‘Grandpa’s RV Productions’
Prosecutors claim Delay and Comer recruited girls and young women into prostitution by approaching them online. Delay promised them money and fame, prosecutors contend, and posed as an HBO-connected filmmaker.
“Delay told his victims that he had a contract with HBO to produce a documentary on prostitution and escorting, and that if they worked for him as prostitutes to fund and participate in the ‘documentary,’ they would become famous and receive millions of dollars,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Crisham said in court papers.
Investigators seized phones, computers and electronic storage devices from Delay and Comer that they claim contain evidence of the sex-trafficking scheme. Delay is also alleged to have shared child pornography online and enticed a girl into sending him sexually explicit videos of herself.
The investigation into the sex-trafficking scheme began in December 2014, when a young woman went to Redmond police with claims that she’d been manipulated into prostitution by Comer.
Offering a story that would be repeated by other teens wrapped up in the scheme, the then-18-year-old woman explained that Comer seduced her after they met online. She wanted to feel love and to be part of something, and Comer offered her an opportunity at both.
Having traded messages for months on MeetMe.com, Comer, then 19, and Delay, then 48, picked the teen up at her high school and asked her to move in with them, an FBI special agent said in court papers. She eventually agreed, moving into their Lynnwood apartment in June 2014.
Comer and Delay explained they were making a documentary about the sex trade, according to the young woman’s account. They needed someone to provide them with firsthand knowledge, and suggested the teen could provide it.
They also wanted her money, the FBI agent said in court papers. Her prostitution earnings would go to them, the agent continued, and in turn they would pay her $20 million when the documentary wrapped.
Prior to pleading guilty, Comer had claimed Delay’s film company – “Grandpa’s RV Productions” – was a legitimate business. Delay’s attorneys, in statements to the court, have disputed claims that Delay brought the young woman into prostitution.
Teens taken on cross-country prostitution tour
The weeks that followed saw the young woman have sex for money during a national tour that saw her travel to Oregon, Florida, Nevada, Texas and Illinois. The FBI agent said Delay and Comer posted the advertisements, set the price – as low as $120 a session – and kept the cash.
The young woman broke from Delay and Comer in November 2014. She called her mother, who arranged to have her returned. In retaliation, Comer broke into the young woman’s Facebook account and posted lascivious photos of her as well as statements referring to prostitution.
In their travels, Comer and Delay recruited other girls and women for the bogus documentary, the FBI agent continued.
The scam was widespread enough that a King County Sheriff’s Office vice detective working undercover as a “john” encountered another young woman who claimed to be involved in the documentary. According to court statements, the young woman, identified through a Backpage.com advertisement, told the detective she was a producer for Delay, whom she knew under an alias.
Investigators have identified at least three young women and one teen girl alleged to have been drawn into the sex-trafficking ring. Delay is alleged to have solicited sexually explicit photos and videos from a 16-year-old girl whom he pressured to work as a prostitute.
Investigators recovered dozens of prostitution advertisements posted by Comer promoting other teens. They also seized 700 hotel room cards, contracts describing the “documentary” and computers they claim were loaded with sexually explicit materials, including child pornography.
Per investigators’ statements, Delay’s computer included pornographic videos of three girls who have been identified by law enforcement, as well as several children who had not yet been identified.
Delay was booked and released on state charges in December 2014. He was arrested again on Jan. 12, 2015, arriving at Sea-Tac International Airport from Chicago; Comer was arrested the following day at a Chicago-area hotel.
‘A danger to the community’
Facing a potential life sentence, it didn’t take long for Comer to come clean.
She pleaded guilty in November 2015 to a single, serious felony count – conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking – and was released pending sentencing. The commitments she and prosecutors made to one another during plea negotiations are secret, as her plea agreement remains sealed from public view.
Since then, though, Comer has had something of a bumpy ride.
She was booted from a Seattle halfway house in November after repeated violations. Comer apparently sent a letter to a convicted hacker also residing at the detention center, asking him to email her. The letter proved problematic for Comer when the inmate passed it to Delay, whose attorneys provided it to prosecutors.
While at the halfway house, Comer was prohibited from accessing the internet. The letter showed that she was using email, in violation of the terms of her release.
She was then placed at the Tacoma Residential Reentry Center, a Pioneer Human Services-run center that primarily houses inmates returning to civilian life after leaving prison.
Within weeks of arriving at the Tacoma center, Comer was caught exchanging text messages with young residents recently released from state juvenile detention facilities.
While in the halfway houses, Comer had been working long hours as a server at two Seattle restaurants. She is alleged to have arranged meetings with the former juvenile offenders outside the secure halfway house, in violation of house rules.
“Comer’s willingness to break these particular rules is especially disconcerting given that Comer’s conviction arises out of her involvement in a sex trafficking conspiracy that targeted vulnerable young victims and involved her using the internet to publish nude photographs of a victim who reported to law enforcement,” Crisham said in court papers. “Comer clearly presents a danger to the community, as evidenced by both her crime of conviction and her behavior while on bond. …
“Indeed, the probation office has spent over $20,000 to provide housing and programming for a defendant who does not seem to appreciate it and who will not deign to abide by even the most basic rules and conditions.”
On Wednesday, Comer was returned to federal detention, where she’ll likely remain until she is sentenced. When that happens, though, appears to depend on Delay.
Man faces possible life sentence on sex-trafficking allegations
Prosecutors say Delay answered Comer’s guilty plea with a pressure campaign. He is alleged to have contacted her repeatedly, had his family harass her and spread rumors about her at the federal detention center where both are currently housed.
Delay has been accused of using an intermediary to contact a witness against him, and asking his mother to put money in Comer’s jail bank account. Investigators say he also loudly called Comer a “snitch” in the detention center visiting area.
As trial approaches, Delay’s attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik to throw out much of the electronic evidence against him. They claim a MacBook laptop taken from Comer and other items were mishandled, an allegation hotly disputed by the prosecution.
Prosecutors have been busy, as well, adding to the already healthy stack of charges against Delay. Delay looks to lose what remains of his best years if convicted as charged.
In court papers, Crisham said Delay and his family have a “penchant” for harassment and intimidation. They’ve posted groundless allegations on a Facebook page calling for Delay’s release, Crisham said, and can’t be trusted with sensitive information about Delay’s accusers.
Until recently, at least, Delay has been placed in the special housing unit – solitary confinement – at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center. He was penalized for giving money to another inmate and lying to detention center staff.
In court papers, Delay’s attorneys assert he was simply living with a young woman who was working in prostitution. That woman is considered by the defense to be key to the prosecution’s case against Delay.
Comer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. She is currently scheduled to be sentenced in June.
Delay has been indicted on 17 counts related to the allegations. He has been charged with production of child pornography and sex trafficking, as well as obstructing justice in the months since his arrest. His case is scheduled to go to trial in May.