Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
PHOTOGRAPHER CHARGED WITH HAVING UNLAWFUL SEX WITH 15-YEAR-OLD GIRL AFTER AGREEING
TO HELP HER MODELING CAREER
*Photographer’s fiancé charged with sex crimes for facilitating unlawful sex between defendant and victim
NEWPORT BEACH – A photographer has been charged with having an unlawful sexual relationship with a now-15-year-old girl after meeting the victim through his fiancé. Jason Ellis, 33, Newport Beach, is charged with felonies for three counts of lewd acts on a child, one count of statutory rape, one count of oral copulation of a minor, and one count of digital penetration of a minor. Ellis’ live-in fiancé, Michelle Hecker, 31, is charged as an aider and abettor for facilitating the crimes and faces the same six felony counts as Ellis. If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of seven years in state prison. The People will request that Ellis and Hecker each be held on $100,000 bail. Ellis is expected to be arraigned this afternoon, Tuesday, July 8, 2008, at 1:30 p.m., at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach. The Department is to be assigned. Hecker’s arraignment is to be scheduled.
Hecker is accused of meeting Jane Doe when she was 14 years old through a shared interest in horseback riding. She is accused of introducing the victim to her photographer fiancé, Ellis, under the pretense that he could help Jane Doe with her modeling career. After meeting the victim, Ellis is accused continuing to see Jane Doe and grooming her to develop a sexual relationship. Between August 2007 and June 2008, Ellis is accused of taking Jane Doe on dates to the movies and to dinner, and kissing and touching her buttocks in public. Ellis is accused of digitally penetrating, orally copulating, and having unlawful sex with the victim.
Hecker is accused of facilitating the unlawful sexual relationship between Ellis and Jane Doe by gaining the trust of the victim’s parents and picking Jane Doe up from her house under the guise of taking her horseback riding. She is accused of driving the victim to meet Ellis and driving her home after the defendant had spent time alone with Jane Doe. She is accused of having the victim change into and out of horseback riding clothes to hide her activities from Jane Doe’s parents.
Jane Doe’s parents became suspicious when the victim began spending too much time with Ellis and Hecker and hired a private investigator. Jane Doe’s parents contacted the police after receiving information from the private investigator.
Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact supervising District Attorney Investigator Tim Craig (714)347-8558. Deputy District Attorney Drew Haughton of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.