The Seattle Police Department arrested Counter-Strike co-creator Jess Cliffe on Thursday following a nine-month investigation for alleged sexual exploitation of a child, according to a police document obtained by ESPN.
From April to June 2017, Cliffe and police agree, he participated in at least three paid sexual encounters with a then-16-year-old girl he met online. Cliffe allegedly recorded the last encounter on his mobile phone without her consent. Cliffe's attorney said in court Friday that he was unaware of the girl's age because the dating website they used was restricted to those over 18.
The Seattle Police Department opened an investigation into the matter on May 3, 2017, after a referral in regard to commercial sexual exploitation of children involving a juvenile. Throughout the process, the police interviewed the girl and served warrants to the online dating site and AT&T, the provider for Cliffe's mobile phone. Those warrants led investigators to obtain text correspondence between Cliffe and the girl.
Cliffe was arrested Wednesday at the Southwest Precinct of the Seattle Police Department and was booked early Thursday morning at the King County Jail. He appeared in court Friday at a bail hearing, at which his bail was set for $150,000, and he posted bail late Friday. He is set to appear in court again on Monday and has yet to be charged with a crime.
Cliffe was suspended from his job at Valve Corporation, the company that acquired intellectual property rights to Counter-Strike and hired Cliffe in 2000, on Thursday. Valve issued a statement to multiple news organizations regarding the suspension.
"We are still learning details of what actually happened," a Valve representative said in a statement. "Reports suggest he has been arrested for a felony offense. As such we have suspended his employment until we know more."
Cliffe has no prior criminal history but was previously arrested in an assault case in 2013 in Seattle. That case was ultimately dismissed.