Shea M. Rhodes, Esq
Shea M. Rhodes, Esq. has dedicated her career to combating violence against women, protecting the rights of those who are oppressed or exploited, and championing human rights. She is a national expert on laws related to sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and prostitution policy. As the Co-Founder and Director of the Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE Institute) at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, Ms. Rhodes works with and on behalf of victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Additionally, the CSE Institute serves as the data and information clearinghouse for Pennsylvania stakeholders working to implement Pennsylvania’s comprehensive human trafficking statute enacted in 2014.
Ms. Rhodes’ work at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law also includes teaching the course Human Trafficking, which seeks to address human trafficking from the legal and policy perspectives. This course explores the laws related to the various needs of human trafficking survivors, rhetoric, and popular culture perceptions of human trafficking, and how to respond to the diverse physical, emotional, and psychological needs of survivors through trauma-informed lawyering skills.
Ms. Rhodes was awarded a 2021-2022 U.S. Fulbright Scholar grant for the Fulbright-Schuman European Union Affairs Program by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board to conduct research in Austria and Sweden. Her research, titled “Discouraging the Demand that Drives the Exploitation of Persons that Leads to Human Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation,” looks at whether Austria and Sweden have successfully implemented a directive from the United Nations’ Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children. The directive calls on all States Parties to take legislative or other measures to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, that leads to trafficking.
Ms. Rhodes is also a member of several anti-trafficking initiatives, locally and internationally, including Philadelphia’s Anti-Trafficking Coalition, the Pennsylvania Anti-Human Trafficking Advocacy Work Group (PAHTAWG), Shared Hope International’s JuST Response Council. She is a founding Steering Committee member and is currently on the Executive Committee for World Without Exploitation (WorldWE). She also sits on the Board of Directors for Dawn’s Place, a residential treatment program for women who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. In May of 2019, Shea was inducted as a fellow into The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which is a not-for-profit medical, educational, and cultural institution that serves to advance the cause of health and upholds the ideals of the heritage of medicine.
Prior to forming the CSE Institute in 2014, Ms. Rhodes served the Philadelphia community as an Assistant District Attorney. During that time, she helped found Project Dawn Court and develop a Law Enforcement Working Group to facilitate effective handling of human trafficking cases. Before joining the District Attorney’s Office, Ms. Rhodes served as a staff attorney for the Crime Victim’s Law Project where she represented victims of sexual violence.
Ms. Rhodes regularly conducts trainings and presentations throughout the Commonwealth and nationally. Ms. Rhodes’ written materials, including policy papers, legal resources, and newsletters, can be found on the CSE Institute website. She is a graduate of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and the University of Kansas.