On the weekend, the FBI conducted a sting in Brookhaven, Georgia that saw 21 men arrested for attempting “to seduce, solicit, lure or entice” children. A 32-year-old Hi-Rez employee was identified to be among the group, promptly seeing the studio dismiss the developer and distance itself from the situation.
Georgia police released a statement in conjunction with the FBI explaining that this was the result of “Operation Interception,” a sting that was months in the making. The goal, according to the press release, “was to arrest persons who communicate with children on-line, have sexually explicit conversations, and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex. Additionally, the operation targeted those who are willing to exploit children by purchasing sex with a minor.”
Details are scarce on the arrest, which saw Hi-Rez community specialist Thomas Cheung arrested in a Brookhaven parking garage. Alongside his work on free-to-play online shooter Paladins, Cheung is also known for his presence as a partnered Twitch streamer sporting 34,000 followers. Following the charges, Cheung could potentially face up to $25,000 in fines and 20 years in prison.
— HiRezStew (@schisam) February 5, 2019
SteelSeries immediately dropped its sponsorship of Cheung, and Hi-Rez quickly informed the public that it had relieved him of his position. Hi-Rez CEO Stew Chisam learned of the arrest via local news and couldn’t comment on details pertaining to the case, however he did confirm that “Mr Cheung is no longer employed by Hi-Rez Studios” via a Twitter post.
“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.”
KitGuru Says: Our thoughts go out to the victims in this situation.