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Shea  Rhodes, JD - Villanova University. Villanova, PA, US

Shea Rhodes, JD Shea  Rhodes, JD

Director, Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation | Charles Widger School of Law | Villanova University


Shea Rhodes' expertise involves supporting survivors of human trafficking by fighting for prosecution of the purchaser of sex.






John Ricciutti Presents: Shea Rhodes, Esquire Kelley Hodge sworn in as interim DA (July 2017)



Areas of Expertise (4)

Human Trafficking Prostitution Commercial Sexual Exploitation Criminal Law


Shea M. Rhodes, Esq., Director and Co-Founder of the CSE Institute, has been working with survivors of sexual violence,commercial sexual exploitation, prostitution and human trafficking for over twenty years. Ms. Rhodes is a member of several anti-trafficking initiatives, locally and internationally. She served as an Assistant District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia from 2003-2012, during which she co-created a nationally recognized prostitution criminal diversion program, the Project Dawn Court.

Education (2)

Villanova Law School: JD

University of Kansas: BA

Select Accomplishments (6)

2017 Freedom Fighter Award

The Valley Against Sex Trafficking

2015 Volunteer Award

Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy

2014 Pro Bono Publico Award

First Judicial District

2013 Unsung Heroine Award

Women's Way

2008 Crime Prevention Award

Center City District of Philadelphia

2003 Distinguished Advocate Award Recipient

Support Center for Child Advocates

Affiliations (5)

  • World Without Exploitation - Steering Committee Member
  • Shared Hope International JuST Council - Member
  • Dawn's Place - Board of Directors
  • Project Dawn Court - Oversight Committee Member
  • C.H.E.E.R.S. Program - Human Trafficking Youth Workshop Instructor

Select Media Appearances (7)

Advocate For Sex Trade Victims Reacts To New Bail Policy

KYW Newsradio  


Philadelphia's top prosecutor will no longer seek jail time before conviction for those charged with what he says are low-level offenses, including prostitution. But advocates for victims who are sex-trafficked say those offenses should be looked at, carefully … “It is a violent and vicious industry,” said Shea Rhodes, Director of Villanova’s Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation.

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Bill to fight online sex-trafficking seen poised to advance in U.S. Senate



Legislation in the U.S. Senate to crack down on websites accused of promoting sex trafficking won praise on Monday from experts and activists who said the measure was poised to move forward … Their deal will allow lawsuits against Backpage.com and others to proceed, said Shea Rhodes, director of Pennsylvania’s Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation.

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Pa. conference draws connection between human trafficking, opioid epidemic

Cleburne Times-Review  


A vulnerable drug-addicted teenage girl is kept for hours in a dingy hotel room being forced to have sex with a series of strangers who learned about her services by searching on the internet. Her compensation at the end of the ordeal might be some heroin and a little bit of money … Shea Rhodes, director of the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, discussed the need to go after sex purchasers, instead of only concentrating on the exploited woman

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The hospitality industry's lurking liability

Business Insurance  


The hospitality industry must rethink its approach to service, privacy and security as it faces growing allegations that, at best, it is not doing enough to combat sex trafficking in hotels and motels … Shea Rhodes, director of The Institute to Address Criminal Sexual Exploitation at the Villanova University School of Law in Villanova, Pennsylvania, asserts there are probably more because victims often don’t identify themselves as such, she said.

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Are 2 Philly teen girls criminals - or sex-trafficking victims?

The Philadelphia Inquirer  


It all started with an ad on Backpage.com, an online site of classified ads that authorities say is often used for prostitution.A man answered the ad April 22 and went to a house in Philadelphia's Frankford section, where two girls, ages 16 and 17, were waiting with a 28-year-old man named Reginald Lewis and another male. According to court documents, the four held the man at gunpoint, robbing him of $100 and his car keys. … Shea Rhodes, director of the Villanova Law Institute to Address Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation, said a paradigm shift has been underway.

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Attorney: Shift prostitution fight to buyers and exploiters

Times Leader  online


Shea Rhodes showed expansive understanding of laws regarding sex trafficking and prostitution, filling an hour discussing details of state and federal codes. But it was likely the few moments of silence that said the most.

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Column: Trauma and the trafficking victim: A barrier to assistance

Delaware Lawyer Magazine  


It is important that attorneys recognize that victims of sex trafficking can be uncooperative witnesses or clients. The trauma that victims have experienced can drastically alter the brain, causing victims to shift their sense of normal, become attached to their traffickers, and encode memories in sensory fragments rather than sequential order. As a result, victims may not trust attorneys trying to help them and instead appear stubborn — refusing to testify against their traffickers, absconding before trial, or appearing incredible on the stand as they struggle to recall memories. (found on page 18)

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