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, technology, and contemporary victimization. She focuses on the exploitation and abuse of women, children, and “vulnerable peoples.” She is a recognized expert in the areas of criminal law, victimization, exploitation, human trafficking, missing persons, technology, and the Fourth Amendment.
She is the lead co-author of Perspectives on Missing Persons Cases (Carolina Academic Press), the only comprehensive multi-disciplinary book on this type of victimization. Her most recent works include an article advocating for the recognition of digital victimization as a modern and separate category of crime (The Third Dimension of Victimization). Additionally, she recently published a critical analysis of the use of the term “modern day slavery” to describe human trafficking, arguing that it is an appropriate label (“Modern Day Slavery” – Implications of a Label). Her current work in progress includes an exploration of the promise of affirmative consent, arguing for its use in a broader “consent culture” modelled after the anti-drunk driving movement of the late 20th century.
Before joining academia, Professor Leary worked primarily on issues addressing the abuse and exploitation of children and women, child pornography, sex trafficking, computer facilitated crimes against children, and 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 victimization, exploitation, and technology. She was appointed to the Victim Advisory Group of the United States Sentencing Commission and is the former co-chair of the Victims Group of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section. 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.
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.
Her publications include, but are not limited to:
Perspectives on Missing Persons Cases, Carolina Academic Press (Co-Authored Book) (2015)
Affirmative Consent Within a “Consent Culture,” Texas Tech Law Review, (working title) (forthcoming 2016)
The Power of Language in Child Sexual Exploitation, Child Pornography: Emerging Issues in Definition, Enforcement, and Punishment, University of Michigan Press (Book Chapter) (forthcoming 2016)
“Modern Day Slavery” – Implications of a Label, St. Louis University Law Review, Vol. 60 (2016)
The Third Dimension of Victimization, Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 13 (2015)
The Supreme Digital Divide, Texas Tech Law Review, Vol. 48 (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)
In Her Words ...
Office: 465 Law School
Areas of Expertise