A suspected serial rapist pleaded guilty to indecent-liberties and assault charges in a plea deal with King County prosecutors. Originally charged with three counts of second-degree rape, Matt Hickey, 41, admitted he attacked women too intoxicated to consent to sex.

Share story

A former Seattle journalist who also posed online as a female porn recruiter entered a plea deal with prosecutors this week that will allow him to avoid standing trial on rape charges but will require him to register as a sex offender after his release from prison.

Michael-Jon Matthew Hickey, who is better known as Matt Hickey, was charged last year with three counts of second-degree rape involving three women who were too intoxicated to consent to sex, court records show. His trial was scheduled to begin next week.

All three women told police they drank alcoholic beverages prepared by Hickey, which they did not see him make, the charges say.

In all, nine women came forward and accused Hickey of having sex or attempting to have sex with them under false pretenses or when they were too intoxicated to consent, charging papers say. His accusers were acquaintances as well as women who had been lured to Hickey’s apartment by his online female alter ego and told they had to “audition” for porn jobs by having sex with Hickey, the charges say.

But prosecutors alleged in charging documents that Hickey had committed multiple rapes dating back to at least 2001.

On Monday, Hickey, 41, pleaded guilty to indecent liberties, two counts of second-degree assault and fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, court records show. The state will recommend he be sentenced to 2½ years in prison and then serve three years on community supervision.

His guilty plea to indecent liberties, a Class B felony sex offense, will also require Hickey to register as a sex offender for at least 15 years.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carla Carlstrom said the state faced the risk that the trial judge would sever the rape counts, meaning that each count could have been tried separately, thereby making it impossible for the state to prove Hickey’s predatory pattern of behavior. There was a chance, she said, “he could’ve walked away” without any punishment.

Rape cases involving incapacitated victims are difficult to prove because victims can’t remember all of the details of their sexual assaults, she said.

“Perpetrators rape women who are incapacitated because they know they can get away with it,” Carlstrom said. “Perpetrators like Mr. Hickey have an MO (modus operandi) — they attack intoxicated women because they know those women will remember very little.”

She said Hickey’s victims were consulted about the plea deal and are expected to deliver victim-impact statements when Hickey is sentenced in January.

“We commend all the women — both the charged and the uncharged victims — for coming forward because, without them, Mr. Hickey would still be out there committing these offenses,” Carlstrom said.

A week after the rape case against Hickey was assigned to a Seattle police detective in spring 2016, he was the subject of a news story in The Stranger newspaper accusing him of posing online as a female porn recruiter, the charges say. The newspaper reported that Hickey had lured six women to his Capitol Hill apartment, where the women were told they would have to audition by having sex with him, according to the charges. Three of the women did so, while three did not, the charges say.

The Stranger described Hickey as a tech journalist who had done freelance work for the newspaper.

Only one of Hickey’s charged victims met Hickey through the porn ruse and was raped in August 2014, charging papers say. An acquaintance told police she was raped by Hickey after going to his apartment in October 2013, and a woman who met Hickey through an online-dating site said she was raped in February 2014 after returning to his apartment after a date, according to the charges.

Hickey moved to Las Vegas in June 2016 while the rapes were being investigated and dodged Seattle police detectives’ repeated attempts to contact him, police said at the time. He was arrested in Las Vegas that October and was extradited back to Washington a month later, jail and court records show.

He has been in custody in the King County Jail since November 2016.