Features Jun 8, 2016 at 4:00 am

Six Women Say a Seattle Man Posed as a Female Porn Recruiter in Order to Lure Them to His Apartment for Sex. What Can the Law Do About It?

As originally printed, 6-8-16


@114: So many internet lawyers drawn to the particulars of this case, right? Sure is funny what "rights" concern them...
Spit it out TableTop
What a story...it could be a movie. It seems like no one was surprised. Makes me think about the creepy fucking creep that hits on the waitresses every day. Why don't we refuse him service? Why do we grant creeps so much social leniency?
He actually raises a ton of money for his butt? Maybe legal expenses?

@107 & @108 make very good points. If this were a different situation with different facts all you people probably wouldn't feel the same. Go think about that.
Sydney, this is horrible, thanks for raising awareness on this! The guy should at least go away fo fraud. Could you ask Dan Savage if he still stands by this and if this case has changed his mind?

@121: sadlol

It's just amazing the contortions some people go through to distract and handwave away from the victims of a predator.
I am sorry that the one legit porn agent Sydney quoted wasn't clearer about it: Porn doesn't require "auditions". If anyone wants an "audition", he's fake.
It's not rape if the "Alleged Rapist" worked at The Stranger.
I made comment 107. I certainly did not intend to defend the guy. I think that we clerly see a problem with his behavior, but we can not really say what law he broke, or make laws that would prevent this without examining the particulars and hypothetically examining other possible details so we can say one thing should be illegal and another thing shouldn't. Even if he contacted a porn producer, posing as another person seems pretty fraudulant. I have no idea, but I am pretty sure that there is a lot of sex going on in porn casting. A lot of the people in the industry are pretty sketchy. Of course, there is no formal audition or anything. And of course a porn film maker is going to say that it doesn't happen, but I think we all know it does. And it is wrong because people are taking advantage of vulnerable women. But if a porn producer induces a woman to have sex as an audition, that would probably be legal, but reprehensible. Although now that I type it, if she is performer, why shouldn't she be asked to perform? Maybe some women don't really care. I mean, if they are going to sleep with guys for money, what is one more sleeping with a guy to get the job in the first place. Complicated stuff.
@75 be careful. You've got no standing to speak to the mental state or outlook of the victims, unless you're connected in a way we don't know about it.
This - https://www.gaytimes.co.uk/news/38324/tr… - is why people worry about rape by deception laws.

@107, @108 wow. so first of all, the "interesting comment" is not coherent enough to really address. But @108, "If H had even done least bit of effort to contact porn producers to obtain work for the women, no fraud." So, sending unsolicited pictures to porn producers does not make you a "recruiter" or a "scout" for these companies, which is what he said he was. To be specific, he said he was employed by Burning Angel. He wasn't. Pretty clearly fraud. At least you two have each other to stroke for "getting it," the rest of us will be continue to condemn sexual predators.
@128: "The Crown Prosecution Service said that every case is handled individually and transgender people do not automatically face rape charges if they stay silent about their history"

I can understand concern but not why you are discussing transpersons in the specific context of a sexual predator that (considering the reports being made) will likely still be arrested even without "rape by fraud".
@131 - I'm sure that's of great comfort to the transgender people of the UK - any sex act not preceded by explicitly telling a partner that they are trans might lead to rape charges, but it won't automatically do so.

As to why I'm discussing transpeople here, it's becasue every time we use one horrific crime to justify expanding the reach of criminal law, it gets used to go after vulnerable minorities. I read the article to be advocating for a rape by deception law to deal with situations like this. If passed, it won't be used just for situations like this, it will be used to jail some poor transwoman for not telling her partner she was assigned male at birth. Hell, even if you somehow manage to limit the law to a sex work context as the article suggests, something I'm not at all convinced is plausible, you're still going to end up jailing some poor tans sex worker for raping a john by not telling him that she was assigned male at birth. Is that an outcome you are comfortable with? Because I am not. And that's why I bring it up.

And if this asshole can be prosecuted without the need for a new law, that makes the article's advocacy for a rape by deception statute worse, not better.
The law does not exist here. If one was to be proposed trans-rights groups can be consulted.

Preemptively downplaying the actions of a sexual predator because of a law that doesn't exist seems inappropriate?

Do you know how this law is implemented in the rest of the US, specifically in a manner more suited to protecting human rights?

A potential law could protect trans-sex workers as well, but again, none is in place and it'd be best to discuss that with an actual lawyer if that was your concern pro or con.
"And if this asshole can be prosecuted without the need for a new law, that makes the article's advocacy for a rape by deception statute worse, not better."

That he's assaulted people through legal AND illegal means doesn't make the need for criminal action on assault through (monetary, not identity) fraud.
Er, make there no need.

The need to specify and protect and carefully word something doesn't mean that he's not violating persons or justify his behavior into something that should remain legal. Again, nobody's calling for an overbroad and poorly interpreted law.
@135 - " nobody's calling for an overbroad and poorly interpreted law."

I think that is exactly what is happening here. First because anytime you write a criminal law with one particular heinous act in mind, that's what you end up with. And second because that is what the judge quoted in the article is calling for.

The judge is arguing for importing a sense of materiality (it sounds like from contract law) to divide between what deception renders consent invalid and what deception does not. But the problem is, what is material to my consent may or may not be material to your consent. If a john is transphobic, then his willingness to engage in sex with a particular sex worker will depend on if that sex worker is trans or not, that will be a material condition of his consent (if the john knows the sex worker is trans he will not consent to sex with her, if she is cis he will, so if she is trans and he thinks he has consented to sex with her, a law that defines rape by deception in terms or material conditions, as the article suggests, will make her a rapist.) And, since some johns are transphobic, a trans sex worker would be required to disclose that fact to every john or risk running afoul of the law.

@133 - "Do you know how this law is implemented in the rest of the US, specifically in a manner more suited to protecting human rights?"

It's isn't. The vast majority of states don't recognize rape by deception for just this reason. Most recognize fraud in fact (where defendant obtains consent for one act and then performs another) as grounds for rape, but not fraud in inducement (where defendant obtains consent for one act by way of a deception and then performs that act).

A few states, as the article notes, do recognize it, but only in such narrow circumstances as to be, largely, meaningless. For example, California, until 2013 outlawed sex where consent was obtained by pretending the sex was medically necessary and sex where consent was obtained by pretending to the the husband of the woman who was the victim. After the Morales case (link here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/118880298/Rap…) the legislature expanded it to cover any situation where one party obtained the other's consent by pretending to be any person known to the victim, not just the victim's husband. Even then, the law in California which is (to my knowledge) the broadest in the US, wouldn't cover situations like the ones described by the article.

A broad crime of rape by deception simply isn't recognized in the US. You can write the law so narrowly as to catch the last heinous deception you heard about in which case you do nothing to stop the next one you haven't yet heard of (For example, California now outlaws sex "Where a person submits under the belief that the person committing the act is someone known to the victim other than the accused, and this belief is induced by any artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the accused, with intent to induce the belief."which gets Morales next time he tries the same thing, though he ended up being jailed on retrial as his victim was asleep at the time he started raping her and that is and should be criminal). Or you write it super broadly as New Jersey almost did and outlaw all fraud unless a judge finds it to be de minimus (http://www.phillymag.com/news/2015/06/04…), that catches the next asshole unlike the narrow law of California, but it also catches a whole lot of other people as well.

There simply aren't versions of this law which are narrow enough not to catch people it ought not catch, and which are broad enough to catch everyone they should. And given the choice between not jailing some people we should jail for rape, especially when we can jail them for other crimes, and jailing some people we shouldn't jail for rape; I'd argue we should err on the side of not incarcerating people who have done nothing that would warrant incarceration.
H hasn't said anything so we don't know anything for sure.
The only thing we know is from the victims' perspective.
Oh give me a fucking break.
Given, bestowed, allowed & permitted:
You have one fucking break.
@138 Burning Angel folks confirmed they had never heard of Matt Hickey, and more importantly, that they don't use scouts or recruiters.
I don't doubt your information

This sick incident very much reminds me of a guy in the Portland area some years back who published a zine that purported to be written by a bisexual MMFF cohabiting foursome. He solicited letters, nude photos, etc. from readers and whenever a woman wrote in who caught his fancy (including someone I knew), she would be invited to visit the "group's" house. But if she did, of course he would be the only one home and you can guess where things went after that. He was eventually outed by others in the zine community and (I believe) left town. Depressing how some things never change.
So was his recent crowdfunding for the condition that developed during his "flight to dubai" (that he took in $3k or so) just a front for his legal fees?
Wow, this dude just keeps getting worse and worse.

@127, I would be interested to hear from an actual criminal lawyer, but I think you'd end up writing a law that covers a list of more or less specific types of deception. Like an item "obtaining consent by falsely implying the promise of a commercial benefit" or something for this case. (I'm sure lawyers have had to define "commercial" before?)
Is this the same Matt Hickey who used to write for CNET? The same Matt Hickey who recently had his friends pitch in for stacking medical bills? I remember meeting him when I 1st moved to Seattle at a dive bar on Pike, I used to think him and his circle of friends were the coolest people. I wanted to be his friend so bad, it'll be impossible to look him in the eye ever again.
Growing up in Olympia in the 90s, we were all a close-knit group of punks. When this article hit the Facebook pages of all of us--it felt as if there was a collective primal scream that erupted across Washington State and beyond. That moment of unfiltered rage surged in all of us, but with that rage there was no shock--no surprise--we all knew deep down that yes, this is not outside of who he is. We all knew Matt as "The Pervert", the creepy weirdo who talked incessantly like a rapid-firing-machine gun. I think that for the most of us, we took his antics as a personality dysfunction. It's Olympia--we're all a little odd. You'd see him at all the shows and you'd give him his 10-minute window of toleration and move on. The shared sense of responsibility for allowing him to "be and let be" is haunting all of us. As more and more victims step out and share their stories privately, I can't help but wonder how many more "Matt"s are there in our communities--standing right next to us? How many people are we simply letting "be themselves"? It has forced me into deep introspection--dissecting my own perception of people and their motives.

The fact that all of us had sheer evil at our sides and let those moments of instinctive disgust run through us and not do anything is something we need to address--we can no longer sit back and allow predators to operate so blatantly and with such brazen audacity.

Those who know him well, know that he finds himself without any culpability and is probably, in fact, reveling in the limelight. You are not the victim Matt Hickey. You never were. You always wanted fame--and now you have it.
So has anybody done an image search for his puppet's FB avatar? What are the laws regarding identity image theft? I assume that woman does not know that her picture was used- if it is not of the real Deja Stwalley.

Also interesting that all of these "Not Good Red Herring Either" type defenders of Matt seem to have made accounts on June 2nd. Right when Matt would have gotten wind of this article and are now furiously commenting to make a trail of themselves.

I am not a fan of mob justice, but since the laws are inadequate against this type of creep, sign me up for the rail, tar and feathers, to run this guy out of town.

The whole (well reported) article made me need to take a long bath. What a sick fuck.
@151 - Yes, I ran a search and looked for metadata from ALL the photos available on the FB profile. Only one - an image of some "redneck" type people in a kitchen that 'Deja' claimed to know - came back with any hits. I also went through all available social media to try and find this woman to no avail. It's the most frustrating piece of the puzzle.
@ 152 thank you. I am not smart enough to do this.

Also thinking - how many rapists do we all know? How depressing.
So if a man sleeps with a woman, has her cock in her, and halfway through she FINALLY undoes her top and he sees she has a wonder bra, is that rape? Because hey, he would never have slept with her if he knew she had small boobs.
Or if a really convincing drag queen has oral sex on a man, and afterwards he finds she's not a woman, is that rape? After all, he would have never let her go down on him if he knew it was drag.
BUT, I can see how using the promise of a job to get sex is criminal. Is just think a law worded that vaguely could have bad consequences.

Don't let people "just be themselves"...okay, so we should now make every socially awkward male a suspect? Really? And I am sure NONE of the genuinely sweet, outgoing nice and popular guys in your town EVER did anything. Because funny, social men are NEVER creepers *cough*Bill Cosby*cough*

Yeah, if someone is being genuinely creepy, as in touching on someone or saying things that are just nasty, that is one thing, but if a guy just lacks social skills 9 out of 10 he just lacks social skills. There are plenty of nice people on the Autism Spectrum, for example, who should not be made to feel like rape suspects because of people like this asshole.
@150, I was a barfly at Dancing Goats on the periphery of Matt Hickey's little clique, and he certainly always had a commanding yet unctuous presence.

Man, first K Records implodes (thanks, Stranger; I'm not on FB, so I wouldn't have known for a while), then this blemish on our town.

No, wait, first Carrie Brownstein publishes a memoir in which she disses the lack of ambition in Olympia, then, almost simultaneously, stars in Old Navy ads, as if the book and two tv show and movie roles and a couple bands aren't enough.
@155: He's a rapist, not autistic, but from the sounds of @154 you might not understand how rapey you come off to others and thus confuse the two.
If they can prove there is a Deja Stwalley, and that he used that name without approval, then that could be pursued as a criminal act. Otherwise, my understanding of this is that it's going to be difficult to prosecute unless any of the people he contacted under false pretenses are underage... but I'm not familiar with any of the local laws. Any of the victims might try calling an FBI field office and make sure this guy's on their radar, or if they can go after him for online impersonation and fraud.
@159: Try reading the story you're responding to!
@160 Impersonation online is still illegal, even if you can't claim rape through impersonation. My whole point is you can still go after the person who did this, just maybe not for rape.
@160 In this update to the article, it does indeed sound like it is a cut and dry case for identity theft: http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/06/…
I somehow missed this media whirlwind and just read this, 5 days after being published. 13 years ago, when I was just barely 15 Matt showed up to a HS party I was attending. Obviously out of place and a good 10+ years older than most of the other attendees he made his way around the party flirting with every girl possible. I spoke to him briefly there, I was very into photography— and according to him he was a well-known photographer who told me he could help me with my portfolio and also take me out on "photo adventures." We exchanged emails and I believe he friended me on Myspace. Once he had a screen to hide behind he went from being nice and helpful, to a total creep. He would message me daily asking me to hang out and frequent messages like "I'm touching myself while thinking about you" would arrive in my email inbox in the early early morning hours, presumably once he'd stumbled home from his favorite Cap Hill bars. When I'd tell him I didn't appreciate those messages, and remind him of the fact that I was just 15, he'd justify his actions with "I just had too many drinks" and tell me it wouldn't happen again and that he just wanted to be my friend. Other friends in my circle experienced the same kind of messages from him. He would find common interests and exploit it. For me and him, it was photography, for another friend of mine who wanted to be a model, it was that he had connections and could get her into some kind of Seattle fashion show. Once I realized that he was doing this to not just me, but my other friends who ranged from younger than I, to a bit older than I, I asked him to leave me alone and blocked him. Despite me blocking him he would email me through other emails with nude pics, and disparaging comments, until it got to the point that I deleted my email and myspace altogether. A few years passed, I was 18 now and instead of Myspace, I had a Facebook and within a week of opening my FB account, I received a message from Matt wanting to "reconnect." HELL NO DUDE! I ignored him. Then when I was finally 21, I ran into him at a bar. I hadn't actually seen him in person since I was 15 so I hoped he wouldn't recognize me despite me fully recognizing him. Unfortunately he did and he came up to me and was like "hey friend! long time, no see!" completely forgetting (or ignoring) all of the disgusting and rude things he had digitally sent me as a teen. As a teen, he creeped me out and I didn't trust him and I'm glad I didn't fall for any of his bullshit. I know this doesn't compare to what these girls went through, I just felt like I had to share to solidify just what a creep he is. It's scary reading these comments and seeing how many other young girls he tried this shit with. I am not shocked at all that he has reached this new level of creepiness and I'm glad he's finally getting exposed.
@thisismyusername thank you for sharing, and sorry you had to experience that. if you have any of the inappropriate messages - though it sounds like you don't - you could consider reporting him. sending those pictures and messages to you wasn't just creepy, it was illegal, and may be something he could actually get into legal trouble for.
After reading through these comments here and on various Facebook posts, a certain type of commenters stands out to me. Those are the ones who seem really determined to figure out some kind of legal and moral loophole to justify MH's crimes, which to everyone else just seem so obviously predatory and abusive. They love to explain how things are "gray" when things are actually becoming clearer and clearer, and to search for tiny reasons to give the benefit of the doubt amidst an overwhelmingly increasing pile of evidence. I don't know if these people are just so saturated in rape culture and lack the critical thinking skills to realize it, or if they are "showing their hand" on a darker, more personal level. We see you!
@165 The kind of people (or, in this case, I suspect person) who poke holes in things so they may somehow stick a loop in. It's hella feeble, I agree.
I think this guy is a creep and potentially a rapist in the story involving alcohol and maybe the instance of the extremely vulnerable person who attempted suiscide, but outside of that, providing sexual services in the hopes of landing a job in the porn industry makes you a victim of potential fraud, not rape. Your product was sex, you were asked to provide a sample, you did, and you were ripped off. Strong case for fraud, not for rape. And twisting the interpretation of "consent" when it comes to rape in a situation which was purely business based is disingenuous at best and wilfully ignorant at worst.

These ladies have my sympathy, yes, but when we have enough problems dealing with the law as is for rape victims, this attempt to lump their failed business practices into the mix is frankly, disappointing.

Lots of worthy discussion to be had, in terms of vulnerability and exploitation on the part of this guy and the ladies he's conned. Just not convinced on the idea it was rape (outside of the instance involving alcohol).
Lucia Lola=Not Good Red Herring Either=Known Unsoldier=Matt

same arguments, vocabulary, phrases, and word on fb is he is using/has used the name "Tyler" as an alias.
@167: Thanks for your asshole opinion, it will be filed with the rest of asshole opinions received so far. The guy's likely going to jail for several things throughout his storied history, but I'm sure he appreciates your support.

@166: I don't necessarily think they're Matt, but they're definitely sympathizers.
@169 maybe right. It's hard to believe that this echoed idea of how it's "fraud, not rape," and the super creepy and illogical idea that if he "made any effort at all" to show the pictures to porn producers the "fraud part goes away" could come from someone not directly self-interested.

There are threads on Reddit where someone with similar language also claimed that they personally knew Deja S. and confirmed she does work in as a recruiter- this was before they found the woman whose photos were stolen for the account.
I also don't doubt that an Internet-savvy creeper like Matt would use sockpuppets, possibly even in this thread. I just know that there are plenty more kneejerk assholes who support his right to do this and empathize with him over any victims, I see those sorts of posts on more than just this topic.
Dirtbag? Absolutely. But are would-be hookers the paragon of virtue? There's a lot of bad shit in this world and this isn't worth worrying about. Pretty soon you'll be prosecuting a dude who told a chick he was 30 when he was 41 and got laid as a result.
@171 I absolutely believe it is the same panicked person employing the same smoke and mirrors trick that allowed him to rape in the first place.
@172: "paragon of virtue"

They're not a member of your support group for rapists, fuck off to whatever hell spawned you.
@173: Because these trolls keep popping up, here's the last time I encountered him. I was with friends at Moe Bar for the new Xfiles season premiere. He used his open tab to create a bingo game for various tropes, then gave away tickets for winning.

He argued with a friend of mine that she wanted "whiskey, not beer" then proceeded to give her extra tickets. I thought it was odd at the time, but all the creepier in context. It's his MO.
@175 If your friend but, he would have started begging her. Look at the subtle and overt tactics he used. When texting, he wrote something akin to, "If you're any good at banging..." I'm paraphrasing, but you can see the vaguely disparaging challenge. Really you only need look as far as the "trolls" tactics--equating the prospective models to hookers. The falicy is that it's legal to rape women just because they're sex workers or considering sex work. Call me optimistic, but this specific flavor of toxicity is probably entirely from one source.

I see you, dude.
Holy crap, sorry for all the typos. "If your friend bit, he would have started negging her". Wow. Sorry.
Don't know how to prove I'm not a "sock puppet", since a sock puppet would of course claim not to be, so barring some sort of sock puppet Turing test you can either ignore me or take me at my word. I have no connection to this story or this scene.

I have no sympathy for the con man here, and hope he can be nailed on some charge or other, but I have to agree with @167. This is fraud, not rape.

Rape has emotional resonance - we recognize that it's uniquely traumatizing - because sex, for most of us, is an intimate personal activity. It's not "just business". Even for sex workers, there is sex that is personal, and then there is sex that is business. A sex worker can be raped, but if he or she has sex as part of a business transaction, and then it turns out that they have been scammed, the offense is the scam. Trying to turn it into "rape" just bolsters the damaging right-wing narrative that rape is just sex with post-hoc regrets. It demeans the suffering of actual rape victims, who didn't have sex for business reasons that turned out to be a poor investment.
Again, he's likely going to receive legal action for multiple charges, so I don't understand the kneejerk desire to argue about the legality of this when the article already gets into it. Yes it's disgusting, no, WA state doesn't have a rape by fraud law, we know that. What's your fucking point?
Consent offered under the idea that recompense would occur is a form of rape, regardless. Arguing against this puts you in full agreement with the right wing narrative.
Jesus, Matt. You're a real piece of shit.
Jesus wept. All she knew was she felt violated. Everyone knows this is simple fraud, not rape right? Words still mean things? Please?

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