Hi-Rez Community Manager Arrested in Child Sex Sting

While much of the United States was sitting down to watch the Superbowl last weekend a series of arrests were being made across the Atlanta area, including the arrest of a Hi-Rez community manager. Thomas Cheung was one of 21 people arrested over a five day period in what was called Operation Interception. He has been charged with “using a computer service to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child to commit an illegal act.” More charges may come in the future.

The sting was part of several months of planning between various agencies who were arresting “persons who communicate with children on-line, have sexually explicit conversations, and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex.” This is according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Smite has passed 20 million players

Hi-Rez made the following statement to Variety who originally reported on the news.

“On Monday, February 4th, we learned through local news that Thomas Cheung was arrested in an operation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

At this point, we know only what has been reported in the local news and by local law enforcement, and cannot comment on specifics of Mr. Cheung’s case, other than to say that, as of today, Mr. Cheung is no longer employed by Hi-Rez Studios.

As a parent, it is difficult to imagine more disturbing allegations than those laid out in the news reports. We commend the efforts of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and other law enforcement to protect our state’s children and to send a strong message that the behavior targeted in their Operation Interception will not be tolerated in Georgia.”

He worked for Hi-Rez as a community manager on both Smite and Paladins for almost a year. He was also a Twitch Partner but since his arrest, his page has been suspended.

We will be following this story for any updates.


Source: Variety

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Counter-Strike Co-Creator Arrested for Sexual Exploitation of a Child

News has crossed our desk of the arrest of a Counter-Strike co-creator early this Friday morning Eastern time in Seattle, Washington. Jess Cliffe has been booked for the sexual exploitation of a child, but has not been formally charged with the crime as of this writing.

counter-strike co-creator arrest

Cliffe was denied bail at his initial booking and is currently awaiting a bail hearing sometime this Friday afternoon. Initial reports from the local police do not indicate whether a child was actually harmed and also specify that Cliffe does not have a criminal history.

In a statement to Kotaku, Valve has confirmed that Cliffe has been suspended. “We are still learning details of what actually happened,” reads the statement. “Reports suggest he has been arrested for a felony offense. As such we have suspended his employment until we know more.”

Along with Minh Le, Cliffe was one of the original crafters of the Counter-Strike mod that was built for Half-Life and later bought by Valve to become a stand-alone game. Cliffe has been an employee at Valve since 2003 and has also done level design for Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, Left4Dead and Portal 2.

Our Thoughts

We, of course, will reserve judgement until additional facts about the arrest arise, but to say that this news is shocking and worrisome is pretty obviously an understatement. We’ll be sure to keep our eyes on this story as it develops.

Sources: KIRO 7 news, Kotaku

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