Mary Leary


  • Columbus School of Law
  • Expertise

  • Criminal Law
  • Fourth Amendment
  • Victim's Rights
  • Human Trafficking
  • Exploitation of children and women
  • Professor Graw Leary is the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a professor of law at The Catholic University of America. A former federal prosecutor, Professor Graw Leary's scholarship examines the intersection of criminal law and procedure, technology, and contemporary victimization. She focuses on the exploitation and abuse of women, children, and the marginalized. She is a recognized expert in the areas of criminal law and procedure, exploitation, human trafficking, missing persons, victimization, 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. Some recent works include a forthcoming article that delves deeply into the legislative history of §230 of the Communications Decency Act and outlines its role in facilitating child sexual abuse material online.  Graw Leary recently published a book chapter, A Crime Victim Rights Framework for Victims of Clergy Abuse (Nomus 2023).  In Is the # Me Too Movement for Real?  Implications for Jurors’ Biases in Sexual Assault Cases (Louisiana Law Review) Graw Leary explores the effect of the movement in criminal litigation.

    Professor Graw Leary actively engages in policy development on a number of issues regarding victimization, exploitation, and technology. She is the Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission’s Victim Advocacy Group and the former co-chair of the Victims Group of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section. She has testified before several Congressional committees and 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 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.

    Before joining academia, Professor Leary worked primarily on issues addressing the abuse and exploitation of children and women, child pornography, sex trafficking, and family violence cases. She is 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). She is a former federal prosecutor and state prosecutor. Professor Graw Leary clerked for the Hon. Sue L. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

    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, Washington Post, C-Span National Journal, National Public Radio, The Legal Times, The Wall Street Journal Online, Gannet Newspapers, and USA Today. She is formerly a regular contributor to the Mirror of Justice Blog.

    Her honors include being the keynote speaker for the Catholic University Research Day, recipient of the Award for Teaching Excellence in Early Career from The Catholic University of America, and numerous graduating classes have selected Professor Leary as their Faculty Marshal or Professor 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

    Selected Publications:

    Normalizing the Commodification of People (book, forthcoming)

    A Crime Victim Rights Framework for Victims of Clergy Abuse, Rights of Alleged Victims in Penal Procedures: Comparing Provisional Civil Jurisdictions in Canon Law (Nomus 2023)   Rights of Alleged Victims in Penal Proceedings by Scicluna 

    Is the #MeToo Movement for Real?  Implications for Jurors’ Biases in Sexual Assault Cases, Louisiana Law Review, Vol. 81, No. 1 (2020) 

    History Repeats Itself: The New Faces Behind Sex Trafficking Are More Familiar Than You ThinkEmory Law Journal Online, Vol. 68, No. 1083 (2019) 

    The Indecency and Injustice of the Communications Decency Act, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 41, No. 2 (2018) 

    Religious Organizations as Partners in the Global and Local Fight Against Human Trafficking, Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies (2018) and The Review of Faith and International Affairs Vol. 16, No. 1 (2018) 

    Touch DNA and Chemical Analysis of Skin Trace Evidence: Protecting Privacy While Preserving Security, William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 26, No. 2 (2017) 

    Dear John, You Are a Human Trafficker, University of South Carolina Law Review, Vol. 16, No. 3 (2017) 

    Affirmatively Replacing Rape Culture With Consent Culture, Texas Tech Law Review, Vol. 49, No. 1 (2017) 

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

    The Language of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, Refining Child Pornography Law: Crime, Language, and Social Consequences, University of Michigan Press (Book Chapter)

    “Modern Day Slavery” – Implications of a LabelSt. Louis University Law Review, Vol. 60 (2016) 

    The Third Dimension of VictimizationOhio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 13 (2015) 

    The Supreme Digital DivideTexas Tech Law Review, Vol. 48 (2015) 

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

    Religion and Human TraffickingCaritas 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 Adolescent Sexual Behavior in the Digital Age: Considerations for Clinicians, Legal Professionals and Educators, Oxford University Press (co-authored book chapter)

    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 ConditioningAmerican Criminal Law Review (Vol. 50, No. 3, forthcoming, Fall 2013) 

    The Child Pornography Restitution DebateSex Offender Law Reporter, Vol. 14, No. 5 (2013)

     The Missed Opportunity of United States v. Jones – Commercial Conditioning in a Post Google-Earth WorldUniversity of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 15, No. 1 (2012)

     New Frontier in Debate Over Child Pornography Sentencing? Judicial Challenges to Mandatory Minimum SentencesSex Offender Law Report, Vol. 13, No. 1 (2011)

     Reasonable Expectations of Privacy for Youth in a Digital Age, Mississippi Law Review, Vol. 80, No. 3 (2011)

     Sexting or Self - Produced Child Pornography? The Dialogue Continues - Structured Prosecutorial Discretion within a Multidisciplinary ResponseUniversity of Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the LawVol. 17 (2010) 

     Mulieris Dignitatem: An Exploration of Dignity in a Protected Speech ParadigmAve Maria Law Review, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Spring 2010) 

     Death to Child EroticaCardozo Journal of Law and Gender, Vol. 16, No. 1 (2009) 

     Kennedy v. Louisiana: A Chapter of Subtle Changes in the Supreme Court's Book on the Death Penalty, Federal Sentencing Reporter, Vol. 21, No. 2 (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) 

     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)