'Pickup artist' receives 8 years for raping intoxicated woman

Posted at 10:55 AM, Feb 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 21:41:53-05
SAN DIEGO - A man who raped an intoxicated woman in a Gaslamp District apartment, then bragged about it on a website that purported to teach men how to seduce women, was sentenced Friday to eight years in state prison.
Jason Berlin, 28, pleaded guilty in November 2015 and testified at the trial of a co-defendant, 27-year-old Alexander Markham Smith.
Smith and a third co-defendant, 28-year-old Jonas Dick, were identified as instructors of a company known as Efficient Pickup, which taught students such as Berlin to sleep with as many women as possible.
Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser -- in sentencing Berlin to the maximum term possible -- said the defendant lied on the witness stand by saying the sex with the victim was consensual.
"This was a (guilty) plea to save himself," the judge said of Berlin.
Smith was convicted at trial and was sentenced to eight years behind bars. Dick got the same sentence after pleading guilty in two cases, including the forcible rape of another woman.
According to court documents, a 31-year-old woman and her girlfriend left a bar about 2 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2013, and were waiting for a taxi when they were approached by Smith and Dick. The defendants invited the women to an apartment on J Street, where Berlin -- who rented the unit -- was asleep on a couch.
The victim was raped while she was passed out in a bedroom and separated from her friend, first by Smith and then by Berlin. Officers were called and went to the door of the apartment where they heard noises, but no one answered.
The victim's friend remembered Dick's name, which led the victim to the Efficient Pickup website.
Smith was arrested in January 2014. Dick and Berlin were arrested a year later.
The victim said the rape has physically and emotionally changed her.
She said she launched her own investigation into what happened because she knew there were other victims out there.
"I knew I had to do something to break this cycle," she said in court.  "That night was not an oops or coincidence of events; it was planned by these men, who manipulated and raped women regularly; blogged and profited from it, from fans, followers, and students."
Berlin apologized, saying he was embarrassed as not developing relationships with women and he got impatient.  
"I then made the biggest mistake of my life and began paying thousands of dollars for what I naively believed was a mentorship."
Defense attorney Vikas Bajaj said Berlin has been diagnosed with a mild form of autism and reacts awkwardly in social situations, among other things.
Bajaj said Berlin was not a predator and was a student of his co-defendants.
"Mr. Berlin is about as naive as they come," his attorney told the judge.