OC photographer arraigned on rape charges

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. Thirty-three-year-old Jason Ellis was in court Tuesday afternoon for his arraignment in Newport Beach. Ellis's work has been featured in magazines such as Elle and Maxim. However, as of Tuesday, he is facing a number of charges, including rape, involving a 15-year-old girl.

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This case came to light after a family member called a private investigator because they were concerned that the teenager was spending too much time with the defendant and his fiancée. Officials say the suspect lured the victim with promises of helping her modeling career.

The alleged assaults happened last year when she was 14, up until last month. Ellis allegedly met the girl through his 31-year-old live-in fiancée, Michelle Hecker, who was also facing charges for allegedly helping arrange for the two to meet. She is also facing charges for letting the sex crimes occur and for gaining the trust of the girl's parents. Ellis's fiancée is accused of picking up the girl from her parents' home under the guise of taking her horseback riding. Instead, she allegedly took the girl to be alone with Ellis. The alleged assaults stopped when the girl's parents hired a private investigator.

"My agency, Martin Investigative Services, was hired by a family member to look into allegations that this family member felt bordered not only on criminal activity, but just gave her a very, very uneasy feeling about the relationship between one of the family members and two other adults," said private investigator Thomas Martin. "I've been in law enforcement. And as a private investigator for 38 years, it's as egregious as I've seen," added Martin.

Ellis's arraignment has been continued until July 18. Ellis's bail is set at $100,000. The judge also issued an arrest warrant for Ellis's fiancée Michelle Hecker.


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