The Catholic University of America

Mary G. Leary

 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). 

Professor Leary's scholarship examines the intersection of criminal law, constitutional criminal procedure, and contemporary social problems. She focuses on the exploitation and abuse of women, children, and “vulnerable peoples.” Furthermore, she is a recognized expert in the areas of human trafficking, missing persons, technology, and the Fourth Amendment.

Her forthcoming publications include an article advocating for the recognition of digital victimization as a modern and separate category of crime. Also in publication is an article critically analyzing and defending labelling human trafficking as “modern day slavery.”

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 plays an active role in policy development on a number of issues regarding both exploitation and technology.. She has addressed audiences both nationally and internationally including, but not limited to the World Congress Against the Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Brazil, The University of Leeds (England), The International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law, the University of Virginia, the University of Mississippi, Syracuse University, Emory University, 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, CNET News, and USA Today. She is a regular contributor to the Mirror of Justice Blog.

She is the 2011-12 recipient of the Award for Teaching Excellence in Early Career from The Catholic University of America. Graduating classes selected professor Leary as their Faculty Marshal 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. In 2009 and 2015, 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.


Leary classroom


Research and Writing

Her publications include, but are not limited to:

Perspectives on Missing Persons Cases, Carolina Academic Press (Co-Authored Book) (2015)

“Modern Day Slavery” – Implications of a Label, St. Louis University Law Review (forthcoming Fall 2015)

The Third Dimension of Victimization, Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law (forthcoming Fall 2015)

The Supreme Digital Divide, Texas Tech Law Review (forthcoming Fall 2015)

The Power of Language in Child Sexual Exploitation, Child Pornography: Emerging Issues in Definition, Enforcement, and Punishment, University of Michigan Press (Book Chapter) (forthcoming 2015)

Crime Victims’ Rights, The State of Criminal Justice 2015, American Bar Association (Book Chapter) (2015)

Religion and Human Trafficking, Caritas in Veritate (2014)

"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)

Sex Trafficking Court Holds Hope for the Oft Blamed, The National Law Journal (Oct. 7, 2013)
Katz on a Hot Tin Roof: Saving the Fourth Amendment from Commercial Conditioning, American Criminal Law Review (Vol. 50, No. 3, forthcoming, Fall 2013)
The Child Pornography Restitution Debate, Sex Offender Law Reporter, Vol. 14, No. 5 (2013)
The Missed Opportunity of United States v. Jones – Commercial Conditioning in a Post Google-Earth World, University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 15, No. 1 (2012)
Reasonable Expectations of Privacy for Youth in a Digital Age, Mississippi Law Review, Vol. 80, No. 3 (2011)
Mulieris Dignitatem: An Exploration of Dignity in a Protected Speech Paradigm, Ave Maria Law Review, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Spring 2010)
Death to Child EroticaCardozo Journal of Law and Gender, Vol. 16, No. 1 (2009)
Self-Produced Child Pornography: The Appropriate Legal and Societal Response to Juvenile Self Exploitation, University of Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 15, No. 1 (2008)
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)    


In Her Words ...

"The law is not a career, it is a vocation of service to the victimized. Here at the law school, our role is to prepare students for that awesome responsibility."

– Mary G. Leary


Office: 465 Law School
The Catholic University of America
3600 John McCormack Rd., NE
Washington, D.C. 20064

Phone: 202-319-6612



  • Legal Externship
  • Criminal Procedure: The Investigative Process
  • Criminal Procedure: The Post-Investigative Process
  • Human Trafficking
  • Juvenile Law 


Georgetown University Law Center 

Georgetown University


Areas of Expertise

  • Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Technology
  • Exploitation of children and women
  • Human Trafficking
  • For additional information about our professors' areas of speciality, see the Catholic University Experts page.



  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
  • Deputy Chief, Domestic Violence Unit, Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, Cambridge, MA
  • Assistant District Attorney, Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
  • Policy Consultant and Deputy Director, Office of Legal Counsel, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Director, National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse