SEATTLE—Counter-Strike video game co-creator Jess Cliffe appeared in a King County courtroom on Friday, where his bail was set for $150,000 following his booking in a King County jail on Thursday over allegations of sexual exploitation of a minor.
The bail figure was set following a request by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office to set bail at $250,000 “for the community’s safety and the victim’s safety.” The office, represented by Nyoko Maraire, described its findings of probable cause when requesting that bail figure: Cliffe allegedly contacted at least one minor via a website, who he paid for sex “multiple times.” In one encounter, Cliffe purportedly videotaped his sexual contact with this unnamed witness “against her will.” After that encounter, the unnamed witness “stopped contact between the parties,” the prosecutor alleged.
Maraire did not provide further details about the witness, how exactly the two parties met, or whether Cliffe was specifically made aware of her status as a minor.
“Even if the facts are true as claimed, this was a meeting on an adult website,” Cliffe’s defense attorney Zachary Wagnild said when requesting that no bail be set for his client. “He was not looking for underage women and had no idea this woman was underage.” Wagnild confirmed that his client and the witness indeed had sexual relations, adding that the witness had “said [Cliffe] was very nice.” This request for zero bail also claimed Cliffe was not a flight risk and pointed out that he was a longtime Seattle homeowner with his girlfriend, who was in attendance at the hearing.
The 36-year-old Cliffe was clad in an all-red jumpsuit and plastic slippers. He did not speak at the hearing. Wagnild requested that any media present not take photos or videos of his client’s face. Pro Tem Judge Rod Benjamin upheld this request, pointing out that Cliffe has “not been charged with a crime at this point.”
Judge Benjamin set the $150,000 figure and described Cliffe as a “risk to the community based on these findings.” A no-contact order was set between Cliffe and the witness, and the order is set to expire February 23. Judge Benjamin also upheld the prosecutor’s additional request that Cliffe be ordered to not possess firearms for the same amount of time.
Cliffe’s next King County court appearance has been set for Monday, February 5. He had not posted paid bail as of press time. Valve Software had announced following Cliffe’s Thursday arrest that he had been “suspended” until further notice. Valve representatives did not immediately respond to request for comment about Friday’s hearing.