Jeff Skinner, the man credited with blowing the whistle on his ex-girlfriend's alleged Garden of Eden prostitution ring to the King County Sheriff's Office, is perhaps not the unwitting accomplice that the daily papers (regurgitating his story about losing a pet dog named Joker) made him out to be.
"When he met the woman [and] moved in with her," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, "Skinner, who runs a home-based marketing company, said she told him that she worked with masseuses. But for the couple of months just before moving from her home to his [home] in Lake Stevens... last year, Skinner said he started to realize just what his girlfriend's business was." So wrote the sympathetic P-I about the heroic tipster it described as having HIV and relying on a miniature pinscher "service animal." The paper went on to quote Skinner describing an incident in which a girl "assumed [he] knew more than [he] did" and she informed him about "a painful incident with a customer." Skinner told the P-I, "That's when I started to get suspicious."
Had the P-I done just some basic reporting, Skinner's story would quickly have become suspect. For starters, it's weird that it took Skinner several years to "realize just what his girlfriend's business was," since he was in the adult entertainment industry with businesses of his own.
According to web registration records and contact information on sites with exotic-dancer listings, Skinner was running two stripper services: ItsPartyTimeSeattle.com, established in April 2001, and YourPartyStrippers.com, registered in June 2003. Both sites (which are currently "under construction") are listed under the business name Xcentric Entertainment Group--which shares the same address as Skinner, according to court documents and web registration records.
In fact, Skinner's business and his ex-girlfriend's now-infamous Garden of Eden are linked. Skinner's ItsPartyTimeSeattle.com website literally linked to SeattleGardenOfEden.com as of November 27, 2001, according to an online archive. Skinner has used a Bellevue post office box as his contact address, and it's also listed as an address for ItsPartyTimeSeattle.com. The exact same Bellevue mailbox is listed for Suzanne Dean--Skinner's ex-girlfriend (who was arrested with her daughter in November and since released) and the registered contact for SeattleGardenOfEden.com. (That website is currently inaccessible.)
A representative from Skinner's company readily acknowledges that Skinner ran a bachelor party stripper business, but maintains that the business was separate from Dean's, and that Skinner is proud of how successful his business was--often doing parties for police officers.
However, a stripper who called Garden of Eden (allegedly Dean's business) looking for work in 2001 says Skinner told her that he ran the business--not Dean. The stripper also says that after she got a gig with the company, she and Skinner had a disagreement about a 2001 bachelor party. She says Skinner sent threatening e-mails after the party; she filed a complaint against Skinner with the SPD in March 2002, according to police spokesman Duane Fish, and turned over 21 pages of e-mail copies to officers. The Stranger obtained the e-mails from the stripper, and if they haven't been altered, they seem to highlight Skinner's belligerent intimidation tactics to collect $300 from the woman after she bailed on the bachelor party. (In the e-mails, Skinner vehemently says his company doesn't offer sex for money, and explicitly blames the woman for soliciting sex. Skinner's representative also flatly denies that Skinner ran or was connected to Dean's business.)
The woman, a former stripper at Lake City Way's Déjà Vu who wants to remain anonymous, told The Stranger that she first met Skinner after she called his ad in early 2001, and he interviewed her at a Red Robin in Bellevue. Skinner called her a day after the interview with a bachelor party job in Bellevue, which she says ended up making her uncomfortable because it seemed to her like more than a strip job. She left the party, she says, and quickly severed ties with Skinner. She says Skinner called her the next day and demanded his cut from the party. "'Didn't you know that you were expected to do something?'" she quotes him as yelling at her. "'Are you so naive that you don't know you're expected to do something?'"
"She's lying," Skinner's representative says, adding that the stripper is notorious for getting money from men for threatening to tell wives about seeing her. "BS," the stripper says.
Their ensuing battle over the money was captured in the e-mail exchange provided by the stripper. "You will now experience the results of my efforts to stop you from ripping off others!" Skinner wrote in the August 2001 e-mails. "You should be afraid because now you're going to begin feeling like a Soldier in field of land mines. Every time you move--BOOM! You're gonna lose! I'm the General calling the shots and my troops have now been ordered to corner YOU, the enemy! I know where you are!"
The woman says Skinner went on to forward photos of her to her ex-husband's lawyer, in an attmept to undermine her child-custody battle--something Skinner appears to threaten in the e-mails: "Oh, and I haven't forgotten about my intent to contact your 'Ex' about your... website (which I made a copy of and saved in case you take it off-line). I know he'll love the advantages it will provide him... when it comes to custody considerations of your kids. Mom's a call-girl." Skinner's representative denies that Skinner forwarded any photos or got involved in the woman's custody battle.
"Those e-mails are altered. [We] told the police that," Skinner's representative says, adding, "[She] owes [us] money for unpaid fees. [We'll] take her to court. She owes [us] for two party fees. [We'd] love to find out where she's at, because [we'll] nail her in small claims court."
In the angry 2001 e-mail exchange with the stripper, Skinner stressed that his business did not involve prostitution: "There is certainly nothing "illegal" about what we do! It sounds to me like it's your own conscience that's causing you to accuse. Our client has informed us that you solicited him for more money for sex! And we don't practice that type of activity, nor allow it! We do not represent or promote prostitutes! That is illegal and not necessary for us to have to provide in order to do a successful business. Perhaps it's necessary for you though." Skinner's representative seconded that point: "[We] had a stripper service. There's nothing against the law about that. [We] do not condone prostitution. [Skinner] has HIV and is against the prostitution industry." (Dean also denies any prostitution accusations.)
Responding to Skinner's representative, the stripper stressed again that she did not solicit sex at the bachelor party, adding that she didn't alter the e-mails either.
The King County Sheriff's Office says Dean and her daughter are not the only people under investigation. "Are we looking at someone else?" sheriff's office spokesman John Urquhart says. "Yes." Urquhart, however, offered no comment on Skinner.