A Mesa man, who according to police went by the online alter ego "Zel the Wolf"on the digital art-sharing site DeviantArt.com, was arrested this week for alleged online sexual contact with two 12-year-old girls and for bestiality.
Mesa police say Aaron Thomas Usery, 21, engaged in virtual sexual relationships with two 12-year-olds in Overland Park, Kansas, exchanging nude photographs with the girls, and communicating with them "while using 'Skype' and 'Google hangouts,'" according to a probable-cause statement on file with the Maricopa County Superior Court.
The probable-cause statement reveals that Overland Park police contacted Mesa cops in March 2015 about the inappropriate relationships, after the parents of one of the 12-year-olds reported the situation to authorities.
Days later, Mesa cops raided Usery's home, seizing Usery's desktop, two laptops, and a red Nikon camera.
The police investigation revealed that Usery's relationships with the minor girls began in September 2014. Nude photos of the girls were found on his computer equipment, according to the probable-cause statement.
In a recent jailhouse interview with Channel 12, Usery admitted his guilt, expressed remorse for the alleged crimes, and said he did not plan to contest the charges.
The probable-cause statement says a video showing the alleged bestiality with a family pet was found during investigators' examination of Usery's computer.
The statement says Usery told police that he met at least one of the girls through the website DeviantArt.com, where users submit "deviations," or art that has been created or altered digitally to meet the user's needs or wants.
The site, founded in 2000, boasts 38 million registered members and "over 65 million unique visitors per month," according to DeviantArt.com's "about" page.
"Our members — known as deviants — upload over 160,000 original art works every day," the site says, "everything from painting and sculpture to digital art, pixel art, films, and anime." DeviantArt.com also is a social-networking site for artists and the artistically-inclined, helping them, "find their identity through self-expression."
Usery called himself "Zel-the-Wolf"on his account, which states that he had been a "deviant" for three years.
According to his journal on the site, Zel-the-Wolf was Usery's "fursona," as furries refer to the personas they create for themselves. He commissioned depictions of his wolf character from other members of the DA community.
One of these shows a black-and-white wolf, standing upright, with green eyes, green markings, and Japanese kanji characters on one of his haunches.
Usery's personal "gallery" on DeviantArt.com includes several poems, arty photographs of trees, numerous illustrations of "Zel-the-Wolf," selfies showing a much heavier Usery, and photos of individuals dressed from head-to-toe in anthropomorphic "fursuits," which Usery admired.
On his Google+ account, Usery has posted several videos of people in fursuits at furry conventions, along with his comments about their onstage performances or offstage antics. (Usery claims to have attended Arizona's annual "Furcon" event.)
"Does anyone know who the fursuiter at 1:20 is?" Usery asks regarding one video. "I see him all the time, but I still don't know his name! His fursuit is just awesome."
Of another, Usery enthuses: "This video has got to be the best I have ever seen in regards to fursuiters dancing!"
Furry videos also were uploaded onto Usery's YouTube account.
On April 11, 2015, about two weeks after his home was raided by Mesa cops, Usery posted a goodbye note to the DA community, stating the following:
"Zel's unfortunately had to bid you all farewell. He's likely not coming back...life has called him to a newer, braver path. He wants you all to know that he holds the utmost respect for those whom he was lucky enough to call friend, and that he loves all of you... and will never forget any of you."
At the time, many of his fellow DA-ers seemed confused by his departure. Since then, there have been derogatory comments about the allegations concerning him and the 12-year-olds to what he called his "Au revoir" post.
"How's jail?" asks one user in December.
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Another commenter quotes a news account of Usery's getting charged, with a warning:
"Be careful kids. You don't know who you are talking to online. YOU could have been the victim!"
Interestingly, Usery offered similar advice to parents in his Channel 12 interview, explaining how they should speak to their kids about the Internet and social media.
"Let them know, 'Hey, I know that you're on the internet a lot. I know that this is really exciting for you, but be mindful that there are things out there that you will want to avoid, and here are what some of those things are and here's why we want you to avoid them.'"