To make myself more clear: I'm not arguing about calling out someone, when he did something wrong, if it can be proven. You have evidence, which seemingly is trustworthy (even though you admit it can be manufactured). However in my opinion the approach of publishing everything without checking with the other side first, is really wrong and puts you on the same level as trashy news sites that publish anything as long as it generates clicks.
You had a very one-sided story by the 'victim', who obviously puts everything up to support his claim as the 'victim'. You claimed that you want to investigate, but why not publish this story after you investigated and talked to both sides? And maybe ask before you publish any private messages? Well, obviously because the 'alleged perpetrator' wouldn't have agreed on it, but at least this would have been the bare minimum effort before publishing anything.
I'm just saying that no side will paint you the full picture and now it seems that there is dirt on both sides. Can't really believe that you still think 'John' is the victim that he claims to be. The truth probably lies in the middle.
I'm critising your, in my eyes, poor judgement of posting this and trusting 'John' blindly to tell the truth about the whole situation.
And to make myself even more clear: I'm not defending anyone or anything, because the evidence against these guys is kind of pressing. So you are probably right in that situation, but 'John' has his part in it.
My point is, if you ever hear about allegations from someone you know nothing about, I would at least check with the other side or talk to other people involved, instead of publishing 'evidence' that could very well be forged and/or taken out of context. Posting wrong allegations can really hurt one's reputation and damage it for good.
I did reach out to Adne and Zerton, as seen in the article:
From Adne: After reaching out to him to ask about these allegations, he said there is a discord server for Age of Empires IV players for former Age of Empires Online (Project Celeste) players, but it is only used for talking about AoEIV. He said he only knows the Age of Empires Online official server and the PvP server when asked about other servers or persons who might raise these allegations.
Since I asked about the accusations put forth by John on November 29th, Adne has not replied.
From ZertoN: I first asked him if he knew Adne before, in the 2017 to 2019 period. He said he did, though only a little. After asking about Clan Ghost, a famous clan of early 2017 Age of Empires Online which ZertoN and Adne was part of it. He said he remembers but that the clan disbanded a month or two after Adne joined.
Since I asked about the accusations put forth by John on November 29th, ZertoN has replied the following:
Yeah you met my stalker, [John has] been doing this since 4 years now. i don’t want to give [them] any attention, i don’t know, i don’t think it’s worth addressing honestly
I've tried to reach out twice to them about this and they've chosen to not reply back. I waited for a week before publishing this so I could consult with peers on what would be the proper way to disclose these materials and have a fair and balanced publication of them.
I've told them both that I have been notified of allegations and was in possession of evidence from one party. If they wanted they could talk to me and discuss the issue so I could know their side. They either refused or kept silent.