Thursday 6 October 2022
The suspect in the September raid alleges he was involved in sex and torture videos
Written by Leslie Gartrell
Selina – A Michigan man who recently moved to Selina and was the subject of a US Department of Homeland Security raid has been accused of sexually assaulting and torturing dogs in videos distributed worldwide, according to federal court records.
Lucas Russell van Vouert, 25, is charged with seven counts of creating and distributing “animal crush” videos, which include distributing videos showing animals being tortured and abused.
Creating animal crush videos carries a sentence of up to seven years in federal prison, while distributing animal crush videos carries a prison sentence of up to five years.
A phone call seeking comment from Charles Bose, Van Voort’s attorney, had not been answered as of press time. VanWoert is being held without bond in Ohio.
Federal court documents obtained by The Daily Standard illustrate an investigation that originally began in Australia with the arrest of a 51-year-old producer for animal cruelty videos.
The Australian man has been arrested and charged with crimes including cruelty to animals, cruelty to animals and child exploitation offenses, according to court documents.
During this investigation, Australian law enforcement authorities found several animal cruelty photo and video files allegedly produced in November 2020 by VanWoert using the alias ‘Graves’.
According to court documents, the man and Vanuert exchanged 705 files related to animal abuse with each other.
A preliminary review of the material indicated that the videos were filmed in the sleeper cabin of a tractor trailer and feature at least four different dogs who were sexually abused and tortured.
Authorities said they identified VanWoert through a unique tattoo of a sun-kissed star on his arm, a distinctive hunting knife used in the videos and a photo of a tractor trailer with a partial Tennessee license plate number shared with the Australian assailant. According to the criminal case.
In one photo released by law enforcement, VanWoert can be seen with tattoos and what appears to be a brown and white pitbull with his mouth closed.
Illustrated court documents claim that in four different videos filmed between November 8-16, 2020, VanWoert sexually assaulted a hunting dog and tortured ants with a hunting knife. In some videos, the dog’s breathing can be heard during the assault.
“VanWoert uses a hunting knife to cut and remove the dog’s tongue,” HSI Special Agent Timothy Kreithof wrote in the complaint, in one of the videos in which the dog appeared to be dead.
Court documents said all of the videos were recorded in western Michigan. VanWoert moved on to Selena earlier this year. Authorities said in court documents that he committed the acts and distributed the content while still living in Michigan.
A search warrant was executed at his home in Behm’s Landing on September 27, with agents confiscating and searching additional equipment, according to the criminal complaint. Initial examination revealed an additional video of crushing the animals.
Officials in the criminal case stated that Van Vouert on September 27 confessed to engaging in sexual acts and beating and strangling a dog in the yard of his former employer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, before placing the body in a litter box.
Agents also found three malnourished dogs at his home in Selena, as well as the body of a fourth dog buried in his backyard.
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