If convicted, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison
On January 31, Counter-Strike co-creator Jess Cliffe was taken into custody by King County police in Washington for allegations of sexual exploitation of a child. At the time, Cliffe wasn’t formally charged with anything and details about the arrest were sparse. Yesterday, prosecutors charged Cliffe with commercial sexual abuse of a minor; he was released on $150,000 bail.
Accompanying the charges is a statement of probable cause that explains the details of Cliffe’s alleged crimes (as reported by Ars Technica). Cliffe is said to have used SeekingArrangement[dot]com to meet up with a 16-year-old woman. SeekingArrangement[dot]com is a site that connects “sugar daddies” and “sugar mamas” with “sugar babies.” It projects an outward appearance of creating relationships, but it seems as if it really serves as a workaround for booking escorts.
Detectives began their investigation into Cliffe in May 2017. Prior to that, Cliffe is alleged to have hired the minor three times at a rate of $300 per hour. On their last encounter, Cliffe is said to have filmed the two having sex against her consent to film it.
The juvenile recounts that as Cliffe was driving her home after the third meeting, she alluded to the illegality of prostitution. Cliffe responded that it’s technically legal because he’s paying her for her time, not for sex. She then says she considered accusing him of filming child pornography, but ultimately didn’t because she feared it would upset him and that he might become violent.
The juvenile also isn’t certain whether Cliffe knew or didn’t know that she was underage. After being arrested, he told investigators that he believed she “appeared to be 23 years old.” It’s unknown what the juvenile’s SeekingArrangement profile lists her age at, but it’s extremely unlikely (and almost certainly illegal) for the site to allow a minor to make an account.
Commercial sexual abuse of a minor appears to be a Class B felony in the state of Washington. If convicted, Cliffe would face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. While he’s out on bail now, Cliffe’s next hearing is on February 25. Valve had suspended Cliffe’s employment status after the arrest, and it hasn’t yet publicly said whether that has changed in light of the charges.
Charges filed, details emerge for arrest of Counter-Strike’s co-creator [Ars Technica]