Prosecutors drop six felony charges

Orange County prosecutors said Wednesday that they have dropped six felony charges against a Newport Beach woman accused of facilitating a sexual relationship between her former fiancé and a 15-year-old girl.

Prosecutors dismissed charges against Michelle Hecker, 34, ranging from lewd acts upon a child to unlawful sexual intercourse, at a pre-trial hearing Friday at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Drew Haughton said the victim stopped cooperating with authorities and she was the key to the case against Hecker. Without her help, Haughton said, what's left is mostly circumstantial.

"My evidence against Hecker is gone," he said.

In 2008, Newport Beach police arrested Hecker and her then-fiancé, famed fitness photographer Jason James Ellis, 35. Authorities said Hecker had introduced the teen to Ellis, who then allegedly seduced her during multiple photo shoots.

Hecker met the girl — an aspiring model — while horseback riding, and told her about Ellis, authorities claimed.

According to a private investigator hired by a relative of the teenager, Hecker would pick the girl up from her parents' house and drop her off at the movies, gas stations or shopping center parking lots to meet Ellis. Videos showed Ellis engaging in public displays of affection with the girl, officials claimed.

Private investigator Tom Martin said the girl looked like a younger version of Hecker, with a slight build and long blond hair.

Prosecutors are moving forward with their case against Ellis, who is due in court May 20 for a pre-trial hearing. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

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