Professor Leary is a professor of law at The Catholic University of America. She is a former prosecutor and attorney in the non-profit sector, focusing on crimes against women and children; the former policy consultant and deputy director for the Office of Legal Counsel at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC); and the former director of the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse (NCPCA).
Before joining academia, Professor Leary worked primarily on issues addressing the exploitation of children and women, child pornography, child prostitution, computer facilitated crimes against children, and the investigation and prosecution of family violence cases. As both a state and federal prosecutor, Professor Leary focused on family violence and sexual assault, but successfully prosecuted at the trial and appellate levels, an array of criminal cases. She is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and served as deputy chief of the Domestic Violence Unit for the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Leary also served as an assistant district attorney in the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. Professor Leary clerked for the Hon. Sue L. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.
Professor Leary's scholarship examines the intersection of contemporary social problems, technology, criminal law, and criminal procedure. She focuses on areas of exploitation and abuse of women, children, and “vulnerable peoples.”
Her current work in progress includes a comprehensive review of the role of technology in child sex trafficking cases since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. She also recently completed a book chapter regarding technology’s effect on child sexual exploitation for Oxford University Press. She is currently completing a co-authored book on missing persons.
Professor Leary plays an active role in policy development on a number of issues regarding both exploitation and technology. Professor Leary served as the head of delegation for the Holy See at the III World Congress Against the Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. She has addressed audiences both nationally and internationally including, but not limited to, at the World Congress in Brazil, The University of Virginia, University of Mississippi, Syracuse University, The University of Leeds (England), The International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law; The Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, The Child Abuse Group of the Pediatric Academic Society, The CBI Academy in Delhi, India, The National Association of Attorneys General, and numerous other audiences. Professor Leary has been a lecturer for NCMEC, The National Law Center for Children and Families, The National Advocacy Center, National Judicial College, The National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law, and The International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She has served as a member of several advisory boards and was an original member of the National Coalition for the Prevention of Child Sexual Exploitation.
Professor Leary is a sought after commentator for numerous media outlets and has provided commentary to platforms including, but not limited to The New York Times, C-Span National Journal, National Public Radio, The Legal Times, Wall Street Journal Online, Gannet Newspapers, Politifact, and CNET News.
She is the 2011-12 recipient of the Award for Teaching Excellence in Early Career from The Catholic University of America. The 2010, 2011, and 2013 graduating classes selected professor Leary as their Faculty Marshal. In 2009, the students of Catholic University's law school named Professor Leary Teacher of the Year. She is also the recipient of the Mary, Mirror of Justice Award (2009).
She received her B.A. with honors from Georgetown University and earned her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.
Research and Writing
Her publications include, but are not limited to:
"From the streets to cyberspace: The effects of technology on the commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in the United States" (Abigail M. Judge, Ph.D. & Mary Graw Leary, JD) in Adolescent Sexual Behavior in the Digital Age: Considerations for Clinicians, Legal Professionals and Educators (Edited by Fabian Saleh, Albert Grudzinskas, Jr., and Abigail Judge OUP USA).
Fighting Fire with Fire: Technology in Child Sex Trafficking (Duke Journal of Gender, Law, and Policy, Vol. 21, No. 2) (2014)
The Role of The Intimate Partner Violence Professional in Criminal Prosecutions, Intimate Partner Violence: Resource for Professionals Working With Children and Families, G.W. Medical Publishing (2010) (Book Chapter)