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Man Promising Porn Stardom Busted for Multiple Rapes

SEATTLE – A man promising porn stardom has been busted for multiple rapes that reportedly occurred during casting calls.

The man didn’t the have the film credits or power of Harvey Weinstein, but self-proclaimed moviemaker Matt Hickey was scouring Seattle’s Capitol Hill for the next adult film star. Or so he said in his online ads, reported the Los Angeles Times.

A journalist and photographer, Hickey didn’t have film credits like “Pulp Fiction” or “Shakespeare in Love” in his resume, like Weinstein. But he did have a similar sales pitch: The power to make someone a star.

His Seattle apartment doubled as his modest studio. Moreover, his staff consisted of himself and a fictitious female recruiter who, prosecutors say, was actually Hickey himself. They said he posed as a woman named Deja Stwalley, not so coincidently, the name of a grade school classmate who was unaware of the charade.

Some of the women who answered his online ads told authorities they were sexually attacked after arriving for a “screen test.”

Seattle police interviewed six women who said they were forced to have sex with Hickey. Under the circumstances, this is problematic for prosecutors. Furthermore, the challenges mounted since they struggled with details of the encounter because they were drugged or worked with alcohol.

Hickey, 41, has been charged with four counts of rape. He has been in custody for the past year, and could be tried as soon as this month.

As with Weinstein, who was publicly accused of being a sexual predator by women who told their stories to the media, the press exposed Hickey, according to the Times report.

In his case, it was an alternative newspaper where he once worked as a freelance journalist that broke the story.

Some of the woman alleging victimization in Seattle said they first turned to police but came away feeling that investigators weren’t interested in pursuing their allegations. But when their stories began showing up on Facebook pages, an editor at the Stranger — an aggressive alternative newspaper that Hickey had once covered Seattle nightlife for — took note.

The editor, Charles Mudede, passed along the tip to one of his reporters, Sydney Brownstone, who got one of the women who’d posted their stories on Facebook to talk on the record. She led Brownstone to two other women who agreed to talk.

“The story snowballed from there,” Brownstone said.

She said the newspaper, which is published biweekly, had no hesitation about investigating one its own former writers, who had also freelanced as a tech writer for Forbes, CNET and other online sites.

Finally, when King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg filed rape charges against Hickey last year, his office and police credited the Stranger for doing the initial detective work. Several other woman had also come forward after publication of the story, “The Audition.” This helped corroborate details.

Police said their investigation has since turned up stories of rape dating to 2001. Furthermore, detectives speculated there could be dozens of victims. Hickey, who was arrested last November in Las Vegas — where he relocated after the Stranger published its story, has pleaded not guilty. He maintains that any sex with his accusers was consensual.

Ads that Hickey placed on Craigslist in Seattle and Las Vegas described the screen tests as consisting of a question-and-answer session to establish sexual preferences, posing for nude photos and having an “audition.”

“You’ll audition with one of our specially selected guys… It’s not for everyone, and if it’s not for you, that’s ok. But keep in mind, we’re auditioning for hardcore, so the ability to have sex with a [stranger] while keeping a smile on your face is important,” the ads read.

According to court records, Hickey reportedly sought a mostly anonymous pool of candidates, typically women between the ages of 17 and 25 he spotted on Facebook.

“He then contacted those young women through the [fake online] Stwalley profile and presented them with an opportunity to audition for a local indie/alternative adult film studio,” and eventually earn up to $3,500 a day as a porn star, court records state — they just had to “audition with one of our specially chosen ‘hunks.'”

Prosecutors said that Hickey himself conducted each audition.

One of the women said she blacked out, and in the morning woke up in bed naked, a condom wrapper nearby. She told authorities she didn’t remember having sex with Hickey and certainly didn’t want to. The woman told Seattle Police Det. Michelle Gallegos that she “cried and vomited through the day [and] felt disgusted and embarrassed.”

Hickey has already been found liable of civil fraud in a consumer-protection case — the first of its kind in Washington — brought by the state attorney general. In March, King County Superior Court Judge Ken Schubert hit Hickey with $332,000 in fines and court costs for posing as a filmmaker and as his own female assistant to deceive six women with a porn scam.

Hickey, the state complaint charged, “posed as a talent recruiter named ‘Deja Stwalley’ in order to deceive women for his own personal gain … [with] no intention of securing jobs for these women. He created a fictional business and audition process to obtain nude photos for his photography portfolio and to satisfy his sexual desires.”

The complaint said that Hickey continued to maintain possession of the nude photos he took of women who responded to his ads.

Hickey is being held on $200,000 bail.

(Photo @matthickeynews Twitter)

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