WRAL Investigates

Local insurance agent faces accusations of harassment

Posted January 15, 2021 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated January 15, 2021 6:54 p.m. EST

— A Triangle insurance agent is facing more than two dozen accusations of harassment and aggressive behavior by women he met through various dating apps.

WRAL has spoken with 11 women who all have similar accounts of harassment, after matching with Matt Ellington, 36, on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. Three of the women have contacted police regarding the interactions. No charges have been filed.

Ellington was contracted with North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company as an insurance agent until recently.

The accusations first surfaced on the Instagram page of the victim advocacy group North Carolina Protection Alliance’s starting in late November. There are now 30 accusations involving Ellington on the page.

All of the women who spoke to WRAL said that Ellington seemed charming at first, until they rebuffed his advances.

“He started calling my phone. I’d answer and he’d scream at me about how horrible I was,” said Leah Proctor, who met Ellington on a dating app in May 2019.

The two had one date and had made plans to meet up again, but Proctor said she canceled because she didn’t feel like going to Ellington’s Durham home that night.

“He kept calling and calling and calling and he’d text and text and text,” Proctor said. “Then he’d apologize.”

Then, Proctor said Ellington sent her a screenshot of a text message exchange he was having with another girl about coming over that night.

Proctor said she became afraid by the messages and cut off contact with Ellington.

“He was completely nice and normal and then out of nowhere this hostility,” she said. “The second you do something to make him mad, he flips out.”

A second woman, who dated Ellington briefly after meeting on a dating app in 2015, described a similar exchange with Ellington.

“He (contacted me and) was yelling, being super abusive, name calling,” the woman said, adding that she blocked him following the incident. “I barely even know you and you are acting this way.”

A third woman described being involved with Ellington in 2019 as a "roller coaster." After matching with him on a dating site, the woman said she knew him less than a week before she ended up contacting police.

The woman, who asked not to be named in this story, said she had only met Ellington a few times in person before he took screenshots of her topless during a Facetime call. The woman said she told Ellington it wasn't OK and within a few days ended things with him. She said Ellington called and texted her repeatedly wanting to be friends, but when she refused something in his voice changed.

"His whole tone changed. It was the scariest thing. He went from wanting to be my friend to...'Well, I'll just send your photos to your company because I know how important your career is for you and now it will be over,'" the woman said. "It was like something out of a movie."

The woman said she asked a lawyer to send a cease and desist letter to Ellington and reported the incident to police.

A fourth woman, who asked not to be named in this story, said matching with Ellington on Bumble led to a bogus Craigslist ad with her phone number.

The woman said she matched with Ellington in November on the popular dating app and gave him her phone number, but when she didn’t answer the phone right away, Ellington began aggressively texting her wanting to meet up. The woman said when she declined, Ellington began harassing her via text message.

The woman said after blocking Ellington’s number she started getting odd phone calls and text messages about a Craigslist posting that she didn't create that listed her number as the contact. WRAL has reviewed a copy of the since-removed listing and the woman’s report to Craigslist.

The woman contacted police to report the incident. WRAL has reviewed that report and the officer assigned noted that "both parties have agreed to not speak with each other."

She also reached out to Bumble with screenshots of her interaction with Ellington and said the dating app blocked his profile as a result of her report.

Another woman WRAL spoke with shared a recent screenshot of a Bumble profile using Ellington’s picture, but with the name John and the age 34. That woman said she reported the profile to Bumble as being fake and it has since been removed.

A fifth woman, who asked not to be named in this story, said she met Ellington on the dating app Hinge late last year. She said the two texted for two weeks before having one date.

“He would talk about himself and go on and on about how he is and how he treats women,” the woman said. “(We) never had a real conversation.”

The woman said Ellington would call and text her a lot, leading her to tell him he was “coming on a little strong.”

When the woman decided to cancel their plans for New Year’s Eve, what would have been their second date, she said Ellington became unhinged.

In text messages shared with WRAL, a number registered to Ellington is shown at first apologizing and then insulting the woman after she suggests they go their separate ways.

“I won’t bother your anymore I genuinely felt like things were just going so well with us I’m not sure why this happened this way,” Ellington writes. “Again I’m sorry about the whole thing with your friend tonight would’ve been a lot of fun.”

“Definitely would’ve been fun. I do think it’s probably best at this point that we go our separate ways. Not sure how it gone (sp) to this point but doesn’t feel right I’m sorry,” the woman writes back.

“Oh wow. Are you serious? Where did this come from?” Ellington responds. “You have got to be kidding me you’re the one blowing me up this morning then telling me your friend…canceled and I’m there for you and supporting you and call you and then you decide you don’t want to hang out with me again and you just text me to tell me you have seriously got to be kidding.”

Ellington goes on to insult the woman’s weight and teeth, before going further.

“If you happen to be pregnant by me you better have an abortion heaven knows you’re (expletive) don’t deserve to have a child in this world,” one of the texts read.

“Just wait till I see you in n hills,” another text from Ellington read, referencing the North Hills shopping area in Raleigh.

The woman said she blocked Ellington’s number but he was able to reach her by using another number. After blocking that number, the woman said she filed a police report and has spoken with law enforcement. WRAL has obtained a copy of that police report filed on Jan. 3. No charges have been filed.

The woman told WRAL that a Facebook profile claiming to be a friend of Ellington’s also reached out to her via social media, saying that Ellington had compromising photos of her that could lead to issues with her employer if they were to come out.

“He’s a friend of mine and he showed me your text since the beginning that also included the naked pics you sent him as well,” the message read. “I’m pretty sure in education you don’t want that part to get out.”

While the woman admits that she did send Ellington the photos, she did not believe it was right for him to share them with others.

The woman said she reported Ellington to Hinge and he has since been removed from the dating app.

Shortly after the woman’s story was posted on the Instagram page for the North Carolina Protection Alliance on Jan. 1, Ellington emailed the page administrators asking them to remove the story, calling it one-sided and claiming to have text messages and naked photos of his accuser.

“This same girl that posted this sent nude photos, we slept together and she blew me up texting, then cancelled New Years plans to tell me she was hanging with her friend. Text and day. Didnt hear from me for an hour and then text me saying if ure not responding “bye then”. I call her ask why and out of no where she said i think we should go separate ways,” Ellington wrote. “Not one time have i ever sexually assaulted, abused any woman and would never. I am dating and arguments do happen and some of the things i said to (the woman) on New Years i should not have said and am sorry. But that door swings both ways. Glad to provide all the pics she sent as well as our text convo anytime.”

The alliance responded to Ellington by saying it would accept text message screenshots but not naked photos of someone. Ellington said he had deleted the text messages but still had the compromising photos.

“I have all the photos she sent which are completely naked photos and she’s a teacher here as well I don’t think this is fair and I’ll be more than happy to send those over or post those anytime if you’d like. This is absolutely not right the stories you guys post are completely one sided and everybody jumps on the bandwagon there is no proof behind any of these,” Ellington wrote.

WRAL has reviewed the woman’s text messages that Ellington sent on Dec. 31, 2020. The messages show the woman’s response to end the relationship followed by 16 unanswered text messages from Ellington.

In later emails to the group, Ellington says, “there are things I regret” and “shouldn’t have said.”

“There are certainly things I absolutely need to change and I’m more than willing to do that but I’m just asking to have these taken down in order for me to move forward again I am sorry and I can assure you that i truly have learned from this already. I’m certainly open to any resources open dialogue or any communication,” Ellington writes.

WRAL has reached out to Ellington, who referred us to a lawyer. WRAL has not heard back from the lawyer.​

Ellington is a former minor league baseball player and played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

‘He’d be awful and mean then very remorseful’

A sixth woman, who also asked not to be named in this story, described a similar pattern of behavior after matching with Ellington in 2015 on a dating app.

“He seemed too eager,” the woman said of the many text messages and phone calls she received from Ellington after just one date.

When she started to show less interest, the woman said a cycle of behavior would start.

“He’d be awful and mean then very remorseful and apologetic,” the woman said.

The woman was especially concerned that Ellington had personal information about her that she did not provide to him. She said that Ellington asked her about speeding tickets and other information that she had not told him about. She said Ellington told her he got the information from the Farm Bureau, where he was contracted at the time as an insurance agent. The woman had requested a quote in the past from the Farm Bureau so her info was in the system, she said.

One of the other women who WRAL spoke with said it was common for Ellington to share financial information of mutual friends saying they were clients.

Last week, the North Carolina Farm Bureau told WRAL that Ellington is no longer contracted as an agent with the bureau.

“The NC Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company is taking all accusations relating to Mr. Ellington seriously and it is committed to protecting its clients’ personal information against misuse and unauthorized disclosures. The Company is currently conducting an investigation regarding the Ellington matter. We cannot comment further because the investigation is not complete,” Farm Bureau spokeswoman Jamie Thomas told WRAL. “In addition to making the Company aware of their concerns, clients who believe Mr. Ellington misused their personal information may contact North Carolina Department of Insurance, which has authority to license, investigate, and discipline insurance agents.”

‘He went ballistic with his texts'

Tawny Orender said she met Ellington on Tinder about a year ago. She said the two had a normal lunch date, but their second meeting did not go as well. Orender said the two met at his home where Ellington was “very forward without reciprocation.” She said Ellington pulled out his penis and asked her to touch it.

“I told him I was leaving. He didn’t protest,” Orender said.

Orender said she forgot about the encounter and moved on with her life, until several months later when she said Ellington texted her.

Not remembering why they were out of touch to begin with, Orender said she texted Ellington back about meeting up.

“Out of the blue during the conversation, he sends me a (photo of his genitals),” Orender said.

WRAL has reviewed the text message exchange, which came from a number registered to Ellington.

“Think you could work with that if we ended up dating,” Ellington writes.

“Sorry it took me so long to reply,” Orender writes. “I would rather stab a rusty fork in my eye than look at your (penis) again.”

Two other women told WRAL they also received unsolicited inappropriate photos from Ellington.

A seventh woman, who asked not to be named in this story, said she matched with Ellington on Tinder in 2015. When he asked to talk with her by phone, the woman said she thought it was a refreshing change from other guys who just wanted to text.

“We were talking about our day, that’s when he made it sexual referring to the fact that he had been touching himself,” the woman said. “I was so uncomfortable.”

The next day, the woman said Ellington kept texting her wanting to meet up. When the woman told Ellington she planned to get back with her ex-boyfriend, she said he “went ballistic with his texts.”

The woman said she blocked Ellington on every social media platform she could, adding that Ellington tried to connect with her on social media again a year later.

The woman said she blocked his request.

“I was scared. I had never seen a reaction from anyone let alone someone I didn't even know,” the woman said.

“If you ignore his text he'll send 20 in a row, starting with calling you (expletive) crazy then ending with ‘I want to marry you,’” another woman told WRAL concerning her interaction while dating Ellington.

The woman added that the two were constantly breaking up as Ellington kept accusing her of cheating. The woman said their relationship ended after Ellington accused her of cheating and threw her belongings on the front lawn of his home and threatened to call the police. During the early morning incident, the woman said Ellington threw a flower pot at her and threw a wreath at her car.

The woman said she saw Ellington recently, only to have him contact her again reminding her that he has provocative photos of her that he could post on Facebook.

Throughout the relationship, the woman said it was easier to just do what Ellington wanted as opposed to saying no.

“If you tell him no, it’s going to be days' worth of torture,” one woman said. “You can’t tell Matt ‘no,’” the woman told WRAL.

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