higgs_raccoon (higgs_raccoon) wrote in furrymedia,

Ann Arbor man jailed in sex assault case lured teen into 'furry' fetish subculture

An article on the Michigan news site mlive.com:

A married Ann Arbor couple first brought a 15-year-old Saline girl into the world of "furry fandom" before the 31-year-old husband coaxed her into having sex with him, a police report shows.

Christopher Burke, who was recently sentenced to four months in jail and five years of probation in the case, denied any sexual involvement with the girl, though did admit she was a fellow "furry" and joined in the cuddle piles at his Ann Arbor apartment, according to the report, obtained by The News via a Freedom of Information Act request.

As Burke explained to Ann Arbor police detectives, "furry fandom" is an activity in which people dress up in mascot costumes, sometimes for sexual purposes.

While he said when questioned by police that he didn't have sex with the 15-year-old, Burke eventually pleaded no contest to one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in June.

Burke also declined to take a polygraph test in the case.

The report chronicles how a 15-year-old girl got caught up in the esoteric furry fandom fetish via her 20-year-old sister, who was in a polyamorous relationship with Burke and his wife, Crystal, and how their strict Catholic parents tried to put a stop to it.

The 20-year-old sister also told police there was never any sexual contact between Burke and the girl, though she broke down in tears during the police interview.

The 15-year-old later confessed more than one sexual encounter with Burke.

By law, a 15-year-old is not old enough to consent to any sexual behavior in the state of Michigan.

'The couple seemed nice'

On Jan. 13, a 45-year-old Saline woman called Ann Arbor police and said her 15-year-old daughter had been sexually assaulted by a 30-year-old man between Dec. 18 and Dec. 23, according to the report.

The woman said her 20-year-old daughter was living with Christopher "Wolfe" and his 28-year-old wife, Crystal. All three of them worked at the Wal-Mart in Pittsfield Township.

The 20-year-old, whose name was redacted from the report though she is not a victim in any criminal case, eventually moved in with the couple, sharing their king-sized bed.

Her mother said she just thought they were roommates. She and her family would visit the 20-year-old at the Burke's Mill Creek apartment in Ann Arbor.

"The couple seemed nice," the mother told police, but she seemed afraid the 20-year-old was being manipulated even then. "(My daughter) is easily drawn into things. She doesn't know right from wrong."

Eventually, the mother said she couldn't go visit her daughter at the apartment without the approval of either Chris or Crystal Burke.

"(The 20-year-old) is a follower and is gullible," the mother told detectives. "They promised to look after her, she's closed her bank account through us and opened a new account at their bank. (The 20-year-old) says she's in love with Chris and Crystal and they are all having sex together."

The mother found out the couple took the 15-year-old to the Oasis Hot Tub Gardens in Ann Arbor on a couple of occasions. She also discovered a text message on the 15-year-old's cell phone indicating Burke said, "I have your dog collar in my pocket right now."

There were also alleged texts from Burke asking the 15-year-old to send him pictures.

When the mother confronted her, the 15-year-old told her that one time while staying the night, she had sex with Burke while the wife was at work and her sister was asleep in the basement, where she slept in a laundry area, according to the report.

The mother told police that the 20-year-old "asked Christopher to teach her younger sister about sex," the report says.

Ann Arbor detectives began their investigation.

Aliases and fantasy

At this time, investigators only had the name "Christopher Wolfe."

After reviewing the 15-year-old's phone, it turned out Burke went by several aliases, including Christopher Wolfe, Draco and Senpi. Police only later discovered his surname was Burke.

The texts detailed in the police report are messages the 15-year-old received from Burke under his alias "Senpi."

On Jan. 7, Senpi wrote this to the 15-year-old girl:

"-lick- you has a good flavor"
"Well you could call me nee-San or master :P and as for pictures. Cute and sassy, fun and sexy.
"That and would love more pictures of you :P"
"My mind is always full of questions, thoughts .... fantasies ... #^_^#"
"Can't wait till things chill and you can come over again."
"I really want to take you to Oasis when it's snowing..Is super awesome"
" ~snuggles~"

Some of the texts received from "Senpi" on Jan. 8:

"you are under cinna Wolfe in mine :D"

Burke also reportedly sent the 15-year-old pictures of himself, including one in a Batman costume.

When questioned, Burke admitted there was inappropriate communication with the 15-year-old but no inappropriate physical contact.

Furry fandom

Ann Arbor police Detective Amy Ellinger interviewed Burke for the first time on Feb. 26.

From the outside, it seemed Burke and his wife were just another American family trying to scrape by. He told Ellinger that he had two jobs, one at the Wal-Mart and one at Gamestop. He and Crystal had been together since 2004 and legally married in March 2014. They didn't have any children and lived at an apartment in Ann Arbor.

But further questioning by the detective revealed Burke and his wife participated in a variety of sub-cultural activities such as polyamory, furry fandom and paganism.

Burke said he met the 20-year-old at Wal-Mart, where she was an associate in the toy department, and brought her into the furry community, which he had to explain to the detective.

"It's anthropomorphic, people who dress in mascot uniforms," he said, according to the report. "Within it ... and also the way I was raised, it was common practice for us all to kind of lounge around on the floor watching TV in kind of a cuddle pile and you know occasionally (the 15-year-old) would be in that cuddle pile. You know, nothing sexual. It was just a platonic, hey we're all just lounging about watching TV."

Burke said he and his wife recently attended a furry convention in Novi. Burke said his parents are T-shirt vendors and he grew up going to all kinds of conventions. He said he introduced his wife and the 20-year-old to conventions "both literary, science fiction, fantasy and furry ..."

"I've got to meet a lot of real cool people," he said.

Burke admitted there were some inappropriate comments made to the 15-year-old, but nothing he ever acted on.

"You know, love, hugs and kisses," he said when asked to describe the comments.

Then, he said, the girl's parents found a text message saying Burke had the 15-year-old's dog collar.

"We all have collars because of the furry fandom," he said. "Anthropomorphic is being like half animal, half human. Collars are common practice. Unfortunately, I feel that because such things weren't explained to (the 15-year-old's) parents, they saw a comment about 'Hey I've got your collar.' You know just telling her I've got it and I knew where it was and it was safe 'cause (she) expressed to me that her parents wouldn't understand it. So I kept (the 15-year-old's and 20-year-old's) collar along with mine and Crystal's."

The detective tells Burke she is not familiar with the furry community and asks him to describe the collars.

"They would be traditional dog collars usually with some sort of flair, you know a bell or a little symbol, usually a tag," he said, according to the report. "In the furry community it's partially a self-ownership as well as identifying marks or if you run in a group of people sometimes they'll all wear the same symbol."

He described the relationship between his wife, himself and the 20-year-old to detectives like this:

"We have a, it would almost be considered polyamorous, but it's a closed between the triad," he said. "Both my wife and myself are dating (the 20-year-old). As you can imagine that in her household that kind of caused an uproar. They have a strong Catholic background as I've always tried to respect as I follow eclectic paganism."

The three share a bed, and he admitted there was sexual activity.

Burke continued to deny any sexual activity with the 15-year-old, however.

"Other than the massages and the foot massages, there wasn't anything physical," he said. "Unless you count a hug. 'Cause people hug and greet."

When asked about the sexual encounter described by the 15-year-old girl, Burke continued to deny it.

"I'm sorry. That's absurd," Burke said during questioning. "Because that never happened."

Burke ultimately declined to take a polygraph "on advice of an attorney," according to the report.

'He did not rape her'

On March 23, detectives interviewed the 20-year-old sister at Wal-Mart.

"He did not rape her," she said. "He didn't touch her. He was never alone in a room with her. She was always by my side."

She told police that her parents were Catholic and very controlling. The 20-year-old said her parents never allowed her to spend time with friends growing up.

"I don't blame my parents for how I turned out. I'm my own person. I'm in a wonderful relationship. I'm open and kind. My dad took away my truck because I didn't believe in Catholicism. I'm the oldest. I've been in charge. I was a second Mommy."

The 20-year-old broke down in tears as police questioned her about the alleged sexual intercourse between Burke and her 15-year-old sister.

She was adamant Burke did not have sexual contact with the 15-year-old, however.

"No. He's not that kind of guy," she said. "He helped me to become an individual person."

The prosecutor's office initially declined to authorize charges against Burke, but by April, the 15-year-old made additional disclosures to her mother and police about sexual contact with Burke, according to the report.

The 15-year-old's questioning by police was redacted from the report due to privacy issues.

On April 7, Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Joanne Pray authorized a warrant for counts of third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim between 13-15 years old.

He was arrested and arraigned on April 17.

Four months in jail

When Burke was sentenced last week in the Washtenaw County Trial Court, both his father and the 15-year-old's parents were in attendance.

The 45-year-old mother of the 20-year-old and the 15-year-old claimed Burke took the virginity of both daughters.

"He's a manipulator and a sexual predator," the girl's mother told Judge Darlene O'Brien during a victim impact statement prior to sentencing.

Burke's father, Scott Burke, told The Ann Arbor News his son and his son's wife merely chose to live an "alternative lifestyle."

"He's not a sexual deviant," he said.

The News left a message with Scott Burke for this story. He did not return the message.
Burke is serving 4½ months in jail. He will be on probation for five years and have to register as a sex offender when released.
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