Seattle police have charged Counter-Strike co-creator Jess Cliffe with commercial sexual abuse of a minor, according to a police report. Cliffe was arrested last week for sexual exploitation of a child as part of an investigation by the King County Sheriffs Office that dates back to May 2017.
Cliffe, who was released on $150,000 bail, is accused of paying a 16-year-old girl for sex on multiple occasions.
According to a police report, Cliffe met the girl through a website called Seeking Arrangement, which promotes “mutually beneficial relationships” between “sugar daddies” and “sugar babies.” The juvenile victim, who is referenced as “AC” — her initials — in the police report, said Cliffe paid her $300 per hour for sex three times and, on one occasion, filmed them having sex against her will using an iPhone.
AC told police she refrained from saying anything about Cliffe filming her “out of fear that she could be harmed or killed based on her small size and accounts of other people who had been violently assaulted during a prostitution date.” AC also told police that she “wanted to point out that it was illegal to be in possession of child pornography (in reference to the video he had just taken), but decided against it as to not upset him in addition to the fact that [she] could not be certain he was aware of her true age of 16 years.”
In a bail hearing last Friday, as reported by Ars Technica, Cliffe’s defense attorney said that his client “was not looking for underage women and had no idea this woman was underage.”
During an interview with police after his arrest, Cliffe said he “was familiar and engaged with several dating websites” that facilitated “sugar daddy” arrangements. He also “admitted to picking up a ‘date’ ... and taking her to his home where they engaged in multiple sex acts and for which she was compensated a monetary amount for ‘her time.’”
Cliffe’s employment was suspended after his arrest, according to a statement from Valve. Polygon has reached out to the company for an update on his employment status, now that Cliffe has been charged.