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A mosaic LAW by Frederick Dielman 1847 1935

Finally, a good judge. San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser sentenced professional “pickup artist” Alex Smith to eight years in prison for gang-raping a woman in 2013. Eight years was the maximum sentence under California law, and Fraser told Smith he wished he could have sentenced him to more time.

Fraser also made it clear that pickup artists are “an absolute danger to women in this community.”

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According to the Daily Beast, in 2013, Smith was working for a pickup artist company Efficient Pickup, which promised to teach men a “rejection-proof” strategy to get women to sleep with them. (So, rape.)

Smith and his fellow PUA Jonas Dick “picked up” a woman (called “Claire” by reporters) and her friend (“Laura”) around 2 a.m. as the bars were closing. Smith and Dick took the women to an apartment where a Jason Berlin, a “student” of Efficient Pickup, was waiting. Dick distracted Laura. Claire was vomiting and eventually passed out, and Smith and Berlin gang raped her. When Laura came to check on Claire, she found Claire, as the Daily Beast puts it,“unconscious, lying naked, face-down in her own vomit, surrounded by a naked Berlin and Smith. The men laughed and told her, ‘we just tag-teamed your friend,’ before throwing the woman out of the apartment.”

The Cut notes that Claire filed a police report that night but the investigation didn’t move forward until she did some research of her own and found posts from Smith and Dick on the Efficient Pickup website describing her rape in horrific detail. She put together a file of online posts, testimonials and forum conversations that were used as evidence.

All three men were tried, but Smith’s case was the only one to go to trial. While sentencing, Judge Fraser spoke out not only against Smith, Efficient Pickup and the PUA “culture,” but also against local law enforcement, which Fraser said “dropped the ball.”

Fraser said:

“The fact is, the defendant did treat the victim in this case not as a human being but as simply an object. And I’ve got to tell you, having sat up here for 18 years, there’s a lot of people that have sat in that chair and I can’t recall — murderers, rapists, kidnappers — go down the list, I don’t know if I’ve seen one that has been as mean and cruel as you have been.

“You had your own language, you had your own apartment, you had your own school. That is the only thing that you could say about your school. It was about being a rapist. I wish we could take your photo, I wish we could place it on the pickup artist’s website to let other men out there know that this is completely, completely unacceptable conduct, it’s not funny, it’s criminal, and you suffer consequences when you do this."

Fraser also called Claire’s detective work “amazing,” saying, “But for the victim in this case, you would have gone about your life. There, in all likelihood, would have been other victims. And so she is an absolute hero in this.”

Claire compared her case to the Brock Turner case and said:

"[Brock Turner's] case stands out the most to me. It rattled my nerves to read of the victim going through such a traumatic experience of a trial only to not have her attacker punished to the full extent. That absolutely frightened me.

“My hope is that these men within the pick-up artist community with notions of women as disposable sexual objects only to be controlled, used, and shared amongst each other, will see that their actions are considered criminal and will not go unpunished. Furthermore, I hope this will encourage other rape victims, especially those cases that are difficult to prove — involving unconsciousness, alcohol, or drugs — to feel confident in the justice system once again."

We hope this means that more “pickup artists” will spend time in prison. The “pickup artist community” cannot end soon enough.

Photo: Law Mosaic by Frederick Dielman, via Wikimedia Commons

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Erika is BUST's digital editorial director. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @erikawynn and email her at erikawsmith@bust.com.

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