On March 4, 2021, Candace Talley, 27, of New Jersey pled guilty to human trafficking and promoting prostitution, both felonies. The CSE Institute first reported on Talley’s case in February 2020 following her initial arrest.
In July of 2020, Talley, formerly a Delaware County Office of Children and Youth Employee, was charged with six offenses. Some were more significant than others, given her status as a government official at the time. She was charged with two second-degree felonies for human trafficking – for recruiting, enticing or soliciting her victims, and for knowingly benefitting financially from their exploitation. Talley was charged with a third-degree felony for promoting prostitution by encouraging her victims to prostitute themselves. With regards to her alleged status as a government official, Talley was charged with a second-degree misdemeanor for official oppression, which highlights the gross misuse of power in this case—especially when the government official interacted with vulnerable women and children in her regular duties with CYS. Additional charges included criminal coercion, a first-degree misdemeanor, and a first-degree felony for corrupt organizations—a charge specifically for organized crime and racketeering. All these charges reflected the significance of Talley’s position with CYS that allowed her to allegedly extort and abuse vulnerable women.
While working as a case manager, Talley recruited the mothers of her minor clients to work for trafficker-controlled prostitution rings in the Philadelphia area. Talley promised to assist mothers in returning children from foster care and ensure negative drug tests if they engaged in commercial sex from which Talley would financially benefit. Talley also promised positive custody determinations to mothers who engaged in commercial sex. Talley’s network allegedly included 2,000 sex buyers and a third-party who kept 50% of the money paid to the prostituted women. She received 25% of the “profit” in exchange for her recruitment and transportation.
The CSE Institute commends the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office on its efforts to target trafficking in the county. It is unfortunate that the criminal coercion and official oppression charges, which specifically targeted Talley’s abuse of power, were dismissed by the lower court, particularly considering the recent calls for law enforcement efforts to target abuse’s of power nationwide. At this point it is unclear whether the third-party involved in Talley’s trafficking ring or any of the 2,000 alleged sex buyers will be prosecuted for their role in this exploitation. We encourage law enforcement to target the demand for commercial sex by prosecuting sex traffickers like Talley, as well as all other involved third parties and buyers.
Talley is free on $25,000 unsecured bail, and her sentencing is scheduled for March 22. The CSE Institute will provide additional updates after her sentencing.