Journalists take down pick-up artist -- he's now charged with rape

The police are now looking for more victims who have been lured into photoshoots, drugged and filmed against their will by a Lithuanian pick-up artist.

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Lithuania
Journalists take down pick-up artist -- he's now charged with rape - NewsMavens
Airinas Arutiunian, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

For years, Airinas Arutiunian taught men online how to "bring a girl home and have sex with her -- if she's worth it, that is". He would take unsuspecting women on dates and secretly film them to use the videos online for his pick-up artist (PUA) courses. In some cases he also filmed himself having sex with the women -- obviously, without their consent to be filmed.

The YouTube entrepreneur became famous as the so-called PUA, but despite making fun of him, various show hosts kept inviting him as a guest and contributing to his fame. In his side career as a stripper, the confident and mildly exotic Yerevan-born Arutiunian became a local celebrities' darling, and famous persons, including women, appeared to have no qualms about the fact that he infamously was teaching men how to manipulate women into sleeping with them. However, when he started pretending to be a photographer and luring teenagers into his apartment by promising them modelling careers, he was eventually caught lying. With this evidence, the police raided his apartment and found footage of women filmed against their consent.

So-called PUAs are proud of their technique of harassing women into having sex with them against their will, and without resorting physical violence. However, as ample evidence around the world demonstrates, psychological manipulation quickly shifts to psychological violence and coercion (as seen in Israel). Whether they use blatant violence or not, this subculture is known for its misogyny and sexism. In addition to traumatising women who become the objects of this game, so-called PUAs manipulate men with self-esteem issues into paying for courses on how to prey on women and manipulate them.

The arrest of Arutiunian shows that both the Lithuanian media, which previously reported on his career successes for clicks, and law enforcement are stepping up to protect former and potential victims of this subculture. However, the victory is partial. The police only had sufficient grounds to raid the "Alpha Male's" apartment and finally retrieve evidence because he was recruiting minors to model in erotic photoshoots. Legislation and practice to protect adult women from manipulative "seduction techniques" still needs to be worked out.

The rise and fall of the Alpha male

  • Airinas Arutiunian became famous around 2014, teaching the so-called 'art of seduction' and boasting that he had chatted up over 20,000 strangers.
  • According to former clients, Arutiunian, who calls himself an Alpha Male, used to brag during his seminars that he never drugged women to have sex with him.
  • In 2017, he was convicted for producing and distributing pornography -- but fined with only 301 euros. This did not discourage him, as he also had a side-career as a stripper in celebrity parties.
  • Being scandalous only boosted his reputation. Two years ago, when he could not justify the income from his "courses" to the tax authority, he was found requesting his clients to send him backdated loan agreements to pretend that they were repaying money he had lent them. In exchange for this tax manipulation, he promised his clients a bonus video teaching them how to seduce a woman who was already in a relationship.
  • This year, the news portal 15min conducted an experiment, sending him an application to model for his photographer alter ego, Dovydas (the name he used for his scam modelling agency). The "photographer" promised that the photos would only be distributed to modelling agencies around the world for selecting prospective models, but many victims later found their images online. There was no mention of parental consent for minors.
  • Although in earlier cases the police reported the evidence was insufficient, this time they raided his apartment and found clandestine cameras (police press conference video). Some victims were found to be minors, and as soon as 15min published their articles, the modelling website quickly changed its policy, stating that only adults are invited to apply.
  • Arutiunian was arrested last week, and now women are invited to get in touch if they have fallen victim to Arutiunian in one way or another. 
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