A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation.
On July 22, 2010, ABC’s “Good Morning America” aired a segment about a preteen in central Florida whose family had been engulfed by internet harassment, predominantly from the underground forum 4chan. The 11-year-old, who was then best known by a stylized Myspace alias, “Jessi Slaughter,” had been feuding with “haters” in a series of expletive-filled rants posted on YouTube.
In the first video, the preteen told antagonists she would “pop a glock” in their mouths and “make a brain slushie.” In the second, she sobbed while her father ranted into the camera, to an audience of internet trolls, and delivered a line that became infamous: “You done goofed.” Both videos left lasting legacies as internet lore.
But the national discussion about cyberbullying and the preteen’s behavior in the videos obscured the disturbing rumors that inspired them. Posts on social media said the 11-year-old had told classmates and internet friends about having a sexual relationship with a 25-year-old named Jesus David Torres, better known as Dahvie Vanity, the frontman of a Myspace-famous alternative scene band called Blood on the Dance Floor. At its peak, Blood on the Dance Floor had merchandise in Hot Topic and toured with Jeffree Star, who is now one of YouTube’s top personalities.
Despite the disturbing allegations of child sexual assault that launched the viral saga, most public attention was focused on mocking Damien Leonhardt’s family, an early instance of an archetype: working-class Middle Americans who had unwittingly become the butt of an online joke.
Accusations of Torres sexually assaulting women and girls circulated online throughout Blood on the Dance Floor’s existence, from 2007 to 2016, and after, but Torres has never been prosecuted. In 2019, the rumors culminated in a HuffPost report detailing 21 on-the-record accusations of sexual assault against Torres, who maintains active social-media profiles and continues to release music under new aliases.
For years, Leonhardt, now 21, quietly observed the growing number of accusations and write-ups about Torres. As the name Jessi Slaughter faded into obscurity, Leonhardt began identifying as nonbinary, using the pronouns they and them, and going by the name Damien. After receiving therapy and other mental-health treatment, Leonhardt began to tell friends and online followers about their experience with Torres from a different perspective, one that includes accusations of child sex abuse.
On March 25, speaking to the journalist Chris Hansen on YouTube, Leonhardt publicly accused Torres of molestation beginning in April 2009, when Leonhardt was 10 and Torres was 24. Hansen launched an ongoing YouTube investigation into Torres in March and has since interviewed more accusers.
Leonhardt shared new details of the accusations with Insider. While investigating Leonhardt’s claims, Insider interviewed former Blood on the Dance Floor members and employees. Some shared additional allegations about Torres.
Insider has also learned that an FBI special agent interviewed Leonhardt and two women who have also accused Torres of sexual assault, though no charges have been filed. Those two women, in addition to Leonhardt, told the FBI that Torres sexually assaulted them when they were underage. Both women provided Insider screenshots of correspondence with the same FBI special agent.
“The way I’m viewing this is that it’s almost like a murder investigation,” Leonhardt told Insider. “I’m viewing this as the internet murdered Jessi Slaughter, and we’ve got to find answers for what happened to this little girl.”
One balmy Saturday afternoon in April 2009, Leonhardt, then 10, was getting ready for a party. Leonhardt wanted to look goth but didn’t own any black outfits, so they took a faux-velvet Halloween costume dress and cut the long, loose sleeves into shreds, then clipped in colored plastic hair extensions.
Leonhardt said the party was at an event venue just outside a town in central Florida with a population of roughly 8,500. Insider is withholding the name of the town to protect Leonhardt’s privacy but confirmed where they grew up via public records and old social-media profiles.
Leonhardt said that Torres knew the family of one of Leonhardt’s classmates and that after being told Torres would perform Blood on the Dance Floor songs at the party, Leonhardt was eager to go and meet him. Leonhardt was a fan of Dahvie Vanity on Myspace, where Leonhardt said Torres responded to Leonhardt’s online attention by telling them that they were cute and that he liked their poetry.
On Myspace, Torres first branded himself as a hairstylist and as “The Elite Hair God,” but by that point he was known in the Orlando alternative-music scene as the frontman of the cheaply provocative electro-pop band. Old fan pages describe his “scene aesthetic and sex appeal” that lured in his teen audience.
The year before the party, Leonhardt moved with their parents from a Massachusetts farm to a furnished rental house in central Florida. The house came with the first computer Leonhardt ever used, visible in many of the YouTube videos they went on to film and upload to an account called Kerligirl13.
“I basically took that thing over,” Leonhardt told Insider. “It started with me being fascinated by YouTube videos, and then I learned how to edit pictures and webpages. Dahvie met me in the middle of me getting fascinated with the internet.”
At the party, Torres’ setup was just a laptop, some colored flashing lights, and a microphone, Leonhardt said. While singing his 2008 song “S My D,” Torres maneuvered through the crowd, dancing suggestively and even grinding on some of the younger teenage girls, Leonhardt said.
Later, Leonhardt said, there was a “cake smash,” where guests destroyed a big cake, getting it all over themselves. Leonhardt went into the bathroom with a group of guests, including Torres, to clean off chunks of cake. But as the guests left, Torres was suddenly alone with Leonhardt, and he started to ask probing questions, Leonhardt said.
According to Leonhardt, they had previously told Torres over Myspace chat that they liked girls. In the bathroom, Torres asked if they liked boys too and if they had ever hooked up with anyone or given anyone a blow job, Leonhardt said.
Then the conversation took a sharp turn from hypothetical questions to instructions, Leonhardt said. They didn’t even know what the word “vagina” meant at the time but followed along with Torres’ coercion and performed oral sex on him in the bathroom, according to Leonhardt.
“He at least knew that I was underage, because I could not have passed for anything above 15,” Leonhardt told Insider. “And I would have been a tiny 15-year-old. I’m only 4-foot-10 now.”
About 30 minutes after Leonhardt and Torres left the bathroom, Leonhardt’s parents arrived. Leonhardt said that they messaged with Torres again on Myspace a few days later and that he asked for their home phone number.
From then on, Leonhardt told Insider, Torres rarely chatted with them online, preferring phone calls and chat websites that wouldn’t keep a record of their conversations. Copies of private Myspace messages before June 2013 are irretrievable, according to the platform’s help forums.
On the Myspace profile for Jessi Slaughter, 11-year-old Leonhardt claimed to be 15; they told Insider they would “dress older” and tried to “look older” with makeup. Leonhardt said they sometimes lied about their age to get into shows but never pretended to be an adult, just an older teenager.
Leonhardt and Torres talked regularly over the next 16 months, and Torres kept coming back to Leonhardt’s small town to see them and neighborhood friends. Leonhardt said Torres first raped them at age 10. At the time, Leonhardt said, Torres knew that Leonhardt was attending an elementary school for kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
“He was quite violent,” Leonhardt said. “A lot of it was under the guise of ‘this is BDSM,’ and he would sexualize violence.”
Leonhardt added: “It was almost this game, like wrestling but sexualized. Now, looking back, it’s super f—ed up, but that’s just how it was at the time.”
Leonhardt turned 11 that summer. Leonhardt told Insider they believe that had they not told classmates about Torres, which led to the relationship being discussed in online posts, Torres would have continued to groom and molest them. The people whom Leonhardt told about the relationship at the time declined to speak with Insider, even anonymously, out of fear that their identities could become public.
On March 2, 2018, Leonhardt publicly accused Torres of rape, writing on Tumblr: “I will say loudly, clearly, and without hesitation, Dahvie Vanity/David Jesus Torres raped me. He is an abuser; sexually, emotionally, and physically. I am not afraid of him anymore; I am not afraid of the fanbase he got to attack me til I recanted my statement when I was 11-12, I am no longer staying silent. Not after so many young kids got hurt after me.”
In Orlando, Blood on the Dance Floor often played at a venue called Backbooth. Leonhardt said they came to see Torres there and elsewhere around Florida, sometimes being driven by older fans and fans’ family members for hours. At Backbooth, Leonhardt said, the two frequently “made out” on a couch backstage.
Insider spoke with four of Torres’ former employees, two of whom spoke under conditions of anonymity to avoid professional repercussions. Another former employee, Jeremy Griffis, worked for Torres as a backup singer, performing under the stage name Jayy Von Monroe. Mal Levy, a former “merch girl” for Torres who has publicly accused him on YouTube of sexually assaulting and raping her as a minor, is one of the two women who provided Insider screenshots of correspondence with the FBI special agent.
All four of Torres’ former employees told Insider they had seen Torres kiss young-looking female fans on the lips. A Tumblr blog called The Truth About Dahvie Vanity has posted a picture from June 2010 that appears to show Torres kissing a young-looking fan. Through his lawyer, Torres said the girl in that photo was 18 at the time.
A former employee who spoke with Insider anonymously confirmed that they met an 11-year-old Leonhardt at Backbooth but said they weren’t aware of a sexual relationship between Leonhardt and Torres.
Rather, the former employee said Torres described Leonhardt as a “crazy fan” who acted overly familiar with the band and its crew and sometimes directly messaged them on Myspace. The employee said that now, having heard Leonhardt’s allegations, they viewed many of their interactions with a young Leonhardt from a new perspective.
The former employee said they directly witnessed two girls they knew to be underage performing oral sex on Torres on two separate occasions. Both times, Torres threatened the employee, saying they would lose their job if they did not stay silent, they said.
Levy worked for Torres starting in 2009, when she was 17. Levy told Insider that one night after a concert she worked in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Torres brought a young-looking fan into a car where Levy and a friend of Levy’s were. Levy said that the fan was holding a bottle of Jack Daniels and that Torres kissed her and groped her breasts in front of Levy. Levy said that when she asked the fan how old she was, the fan said 13.
In addition to the four former employees who said they observed kissing, groping, or oral sex between Torres and young-looking fans around the same time that Leonhardt says Torres began molesting them, a friend of Leonhardt’s, Jackson Clark Cannon, told Insider that Leonhardt confided in him. Cannon said Leonhardt told him about the sexual encounter with Torres at the April 2009 party in 2019, before Leonhardt told Insider, Hansen, and other YouTubers about it.
Cannon, who went to the same high school as Leonhardt, said it was rumored in their town that Leonhardt had actually been in a sexual relationship with Torres when Jessi Slaughter and the “You done goofed” videos became national news.
“I had heard all the Jessi Slaughter stuff, the internet ridicule and so forth. [Leonhardt] was allegedly a ‘whore’ and was sleeping with older people, that was a common opinion,” Cannon told Insider. “Later in high school I still heard that they were having sex with older people.”
Cannon said that while some of his classmates believed that Torres had been molesting Leonhardt, others, including him, didn’t know what to believe.
Leonhardt’s story is corroborated by a screenshot of their private Facebook chat with a classmate from 2010 in which they said Torres “molested” them. Leonhardt told Insider that they used the term “molested” as a joke, because while they knew what molestation was and even that it was technically the correct term to describe the relationship, Leonhardt viewed the relationship as consensual at the time.
A middle-school peer of Leonhardt’s posted the chat screenshot alongside the first viral post about Jessi Slaughter and Dahvie Vanity in July 2010 as evidence that Leonhardt was accusing Torres of rape, but Leonhardt said that to try to stop the onslaught of harassment from Blood on the Dance Floor fans and others, they quickly denied that Torres was having sex with them.
Insider reached out to Torres through his Instagram account, but this reporter was blocked less than 10 minutes after sending a message. Days later, Torres reached out by phone, declining an interview and referring to his attorney, Richard A. Altman, who later threatened to file a defamation suit against Insider. Torres’ lawyer asked Insider to say in this article that Torres “denies all of” the article’s “inflammatory and libelous accusations, and to note that we have threatened to bring suit against all of those responsible, if it is published.”
Leonhardt’s story follows the same trajectory as many of the accusations against Torres detailed in the HuffPost report, along with others provided to Insider by two people who did not come forward until after the HuffPost article was published. Accusers have said that before the height of Blood on the Dance Floor’s popularity in the early 2010s, when Torres had access to crowds of young fans at tours around the US and Canada, he reached out to them on Myspace, drove to their homes, and coerced them into performing oral sex on him.
Leonhardt told Insider they knew Torres was assaulting other girls. The HuffPost article described most of the allegations as one-time assaults, unlike the repeated interactions Leonhardt said they had with Torres — which included Torres helping Leonhardt craft their emo-friendly Myspace name, Jessi Slaughter.
Leonhardt told Insider that Torres encouraged them to use the Jessi Slaughter Myspace account to introduce him to other underage female fans. In turn, Leonhardt said, they told both internet friends and their real-life peers about the sexual relationship they had with Torres, which resulted in one of Leonhardt’s classmates posting the claims that led to the harassment and “You done goofed” video. But it was not the first accusation to come out against Torres.
Torres had already been accused multiple times of molesting girls — starting from before Leonhardt ever met him — said Griffis, Torres’ former backup singer.
In December 2018, HuffPost reported that the first known accusation was from before the band’s formation, in 2006. A woman told HuffPost that when she was 15 and Torres was 22, Torres drove to her home in Spring Hill, Florida, and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
In 2007, a police officer investigated a 14-year-old’s claim that Torres drove to her house in Pinellas County, Florida, and that she performed oral sex on him. HuffPost reported that the case was closed after Torres told the officer he didn’t know how old the girl was and promised to never contact her again.
“Accusations had already started before I even joined the band,” Griffis told Insider, adding that “once a year” Torres “would get into some good trouble.”
Torres was even arrested during a show in Colorado in 2009 after a teen fan called the police and told them he forced her to perform oral sex on him, HuffPost reported. But Torres rejoined his touring bandmates a few days after the arrest, Griffis told Insider. That’s the only time Torres is known to have been taken into police custody.
An unverified police report that appears to refer to the Colorado incident was also circulating online in 2010, when Leonhardt’s classmate first posted about Jessi Slaughter having sex with Torres, Leonhardt said. A representative for the Colorado Bureau of Investigations told Insider that the bureau could not verify the police report and did not confirm whether the bureau had any arrest records in Torres’ name, because sealed records are not available to the public.
But the fan who alleged that Torres assaulted her in Colorado discussed the allegations and the police report in an interview with Hansen in April.
That woman, identified only as Torein, told Hansen that Torres forced her to perform oral sex on him before the concert but that doctors told her there was not enough evidence for a rape kit because she rinsed her mouth out with soda right afterward.
“We had decided not to press charges — we had actually decided to have the state press charges,” Torein said, adding: “Nobody ever sat me down. Honestly, my best guess would be lack of evidence.”
As YouTubers including Hansen, Pastel Belle, and Repzilla interviewed more of Torres’ accusers, some obtained screenshots appearing to document interactions Torres had with minors as recently as April. Through his lawyer, Torres said that “there is nothing in [the screenshots] to suggest any solicitation.”
One YouTuber who covered Torres on her channel contacted the FBI in her home state in April and submitted screenshots. She was then directed to speak with a Florida FBI agent who specializes in crimes against children. That agent’s contact information was then disseminated to multiple accusers, including Leonhardt, and the FBI has since requested statements and begun investigating their claims, Levy said. She said she believes she is the accuser who has been most involved in the FBI investigation.
Levy provided Insider a screenshot of her statement that she gave the FBI special agent in an email. She said she also filed a police report in Florida, in the jurisdiction where she alleged the assault happened, after appearing on Hansen’s YouTube channel in April. Levy told the FBI that Torres forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her one night in or around August 2007, which would have been soon after she turned 15.
Another woman, Ashlee Lillie, spoke with Insider and provided screenshots showing that she had been in communication with the same FBI special agent since April. Lillie has also shared her allegations against Torres on YouTube, both with Hansen and on other channels. Lillie told the FBI that Torres molested her at her home when she was 13 and that Torres forced her to perform oral sex on him later that year.
Lillie provided screenshots showing that she emailed her statement to the FBI special agent leading the Torres investigation in May, and she said she filed a police report in her childhood home’s jurisdiction in June.
Lillie and Leonhardt have alleged that their assaults occurred within weeks of each other in Florida, and though the two didn’t meet until they began sharing the allegations publicly this year, Lillie said the “You done goofed” incident in 2010 motivated her to stop communicating with Torres, who she said would have phone conversations with her throughout 2009 and into 2010.
“I was teetering on the line between thinking me and Dahvie were friends and thinking he was using me when the Jessi Slaughter thing happened. That’s actually what kind of made me think, ‘OK, this guy is not good news,'” Lillie told Insider. “I was like, ‘OK, well, I don’t want to be that person next,’ so I slowly started not talking to him anymore.”
Leonhardt verified for Insider the original forum posts and the initial Jessi Slaughter accusations as they exist on the archived version of the gossip forum StickyDrama, along with a screenshot of their old Facebook profile, which includes a picture of Leonhardt with Torres, and the chat in which they said Torres “molested” them.
Their classmate’s first post, in July 2010, reads: “BOTDF lead singer Dahvie Vanity is at it again! He was apparently having a ‘friend with benefits’ type of relationship with self-proclamed ‘scene queen’ Jessi Slaughter who is only 11! … I have also talked to other people who say that they did f— last sumer when she was 10.”
It added: “I lurked her twitter and facebook and youtube a little bit and she is annoying! If dahvie were a pedophile, why would he pick her! Other than the fact she’s a slut! She’s a lolcow fail at life and so is he!”
Within hours of the post going up, Torres denied the accusations on Twitter, Leonhardt said. Records of his tweets on the Wayback Machine appear to show him encouraging fans to mob Leonhardt, writing “take out the enemy” and “we will spam and annihilate any haters of our fans and our music.” Leonhardt said Torres never spoke to them again after the forum post went up.
Immediately, Blood on the Dance Floor fans began harassing Leonhardt online and calling the allegations fake — but the internet hellfire had barely just begun. Leonhardt posted a rebuke on the same forum two days later in the signature cringe internet-speak of the time:
People STFU This Is A Very Private Matter And Im Dealing With It.
This Post Ruined Muh Life…
And Yes That Was Muh Status On Myspace! Cuzz I Saw A Squril Fall Out Of A Tree In Muh BakYard!
It Was Funnah To Meh!
Muh Mom Has Read This And Is Talking To Dahvie On The Fone Right Nao!
So I Would Shut Your Mouths If I Were You!
I Have Muh Life And Dahvie Has His.
We Are Just Friends!
But the post didn’t stop the onslaught, so Leonhardt fired up their webcam. The first video of Leonhardt that went viral features them wearing a bright yellow T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Blood on the Dance Floor” in bubble font, the same kind that was sold at Hot Topic at the peak of the band’s popularity.
“Hey, YouTube, it’s Jessi Slaughter here, and this is to all you f—ing haters,” they began the video.
“Guess what? You guys are b—-es. You know what? You don’t faze me,” they said.
They added: “If you can’t, like, realize that and stop hating, then you know what? I’ll pop a glock in your mouth and make a brain slushie, OK?”
According to Know Your Meme, that video was posted on 4chan’s /b/ board, where users collected random content to react to in threads devoted to raging out. 4chan is still known as a toxic internet forum, and at the time users responded to the Jessi Slaughter rant by attacking Leonhardt en masse on Tumblr.
Archived forum posts, old Tumblr blogs, and the preserved comments from the original posts about Jessi Slaughter give a taste of the cyberbullying Leonhardt encountered in July 2010. One Jessi Slaughter hate blog on Tumblr described its mission as getting Leonhardt off Tumblr for good, while the “Jessi Slaughter” tag on Tumblr remains full of posts reminiscing on how fun it was to ruin Leonhardt’s life.
Many of the posters harassing Leonhardt appeared to be Blood on the Dance Floor fans angry about Leonhardt’s allegations against Torres, while others read Leonhardt’s explicit sexual posts and sought to “put her in her place.”
Following the online mobbing, Leonhardt posted a video where they can be seen sobbing in a zebra-patterned top. Leonhardt’s father, Gene, enters the room.
“I’m not going to put up with any of you people’s crap anymore. If you ain’t got somethin’ nice to say about my daughter, then keep your mouth shut. And any more of your comments you put on there, I’m recording them all, and they are being sent to the police department,” he said, head out of frame, with only his khaki shorts fully visible.
“And guess what? Your emails will be caught and will be found. And who said you’re going to beat my daughter up, you will have to deal with the police. Because you done goofed!”
Gene Leonhardt then kneels, addresses the camera, and delivers memeable words and phrases — including “cyberpolice,” “backtraced,” and “consequences will never be the same” — that viewers would go on to use against him.
“You done goofed” became the subject of YouTube parodies, which eventually turned to and threats. Leonhardt’s mother, Dianne, told the blog Momlogic in July 2010 that the mob-induced terrorizing of their household included spam callers ordering pizzas in Leonhardt’s name, along with callers who impersonated police officers.
“[Leonhardt] helps a person write song lyrics. He’s in a band, and people are jealous because she knows him and they became friends,” she said.
Dianne Leonhardt didn’t respond to Insider’s multiple requests for comment. She never referred to Torres by name in any interviews or alleged that he took part in the harassment the Leonhardt family experienced. Through his lawyer, Torres denied ever speaking to her.
“For me, I grew up in the Myspace music scene. I specifically remember what happened with Jessi Slaughter,” a YouTuber who has covered Torres on her channel CreepShow Art told Insider. “Everyone blew it off because no one wanted to believe it, and it became something easily swept under the rug.”
Torres also capitalized on the firestorm against Leonhardt and their family with a song titled “You Done Goofed” that can still be found in the depths of YouTube, accompanied by neon green lyrics in a swirly, nostalgic font. The lyrics include “My name and reputation won’t be the target of a slut / I’ll be on top of the world and you’ll be cutting yourself f—ed.”
It’s unclear when exactly “You Done Goofed” was released, but Leonhardt said they heard it for the first time on July 27, 2010, their 12th birthday. In a tweet on July 23, 2010, Torres appeared to preview the song, writing, “What goes around comes around.”
In his letter to Insider, Altman, Torres’ attorney, wrote that Leonhardt had already admitted that their accusations against Torres were false, citing a YouTube video. “It is clear from this video that Ms. Slaughter is a troubled person, and that anything she may have said in the past about Mr. Torres is, by her own words, a complete fabrication,” Altman wrote.
That video was uploaded to YouTube by Leonhardt’s classmate on August 11, 2011, when Leonhardt was 13. Leonhardt told Insider it had been filmed months earlier, when they were still 12, and posted after their father died, which renewed interest in the story. It was one of many videos and written statements that Leonhardt said classmates and friends often encouraged them to make to apologize to Blood on the Dance Floor members.
“At the time, I was in foster care, and all my friends were still Blood on the Dance Floor fans. Those were the only people who even wanted to talk to me,” Leonhardt told Insider. “They basically bullied me to try and get clout with Dahvie and [Griffis]. They made me record videos like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if more eventually surfaced. They always told me to apologize for lying.”
In the minute-long video, which has more than 1.5 million views on YouTube, Leonhardt says they have been to multiple mental-health facilities and are in foster care.
“I’m sorry for accusing you of rape and everything. I know that all didn’t happen,” Leonhardt says in the video. Leonhardt wouldn’t publicly accuse Torres of rape until 2018.
Dr. Veronique Valliere, a clinical and forensic psychologist, told Insider that victims of child sex abuse may recant accusations or lie about the abuse in childhood only to make the accusations later, once they’re older.
“A 12-year-old doesn’t appreciate the consequences of their actions in general,” Valliere told Insider. “If telling brought down unintended consequences like bullying, punishment of the offender, destruction of the family, embarrassment, or shame, the easiest thing to do is just take it back. So people do that all the time. Even adults do it when they say something or do something and there are unintended consequences, and they say, ‘Oh, I was just joking.’
“For many reasons, the victim may protect the offender, especially if they care for the offender,” Valliere said. “In hindsight, we understand sexual abuse as exploitative and damaging, but a child in the process of it may not see that, and a child entering pubescence or adolescence is especially vulnerable to being convinced they’re in love and that it’s a consensual relationship when it’s not. It’s only later that both psychologically and emotionally they identify what they’ve been through as abuse.”
Leonhardt said it took them until about the age of 15 or 16 to finally recognize Torres’ grooming and abuse as rape, not consensual sex.
In 2013, when Leonhardt was 15, they said on Tumblr that “Dahvie is a rapist.” An anonymous Tumblr user then messaged Leonhardt’s blog and asked why Leonhardt had made the 2011 apology video if they believed Torres was actually a rapist.
“Because I don’t care if he sends his fans after me. I don’t care anymore,” Leonhardt wrote on November 2, 2013. “Also; I never accused him in the first place, a person I knew who was mad at me said I did and everyone believed it. yes I went allong with it cause I was a stupid kid, but the original rumor was not my fault.”
When Leonhardt decided last New Year’s Eve that it was time to resurface their story, they reached out to a member of a Facebook group that investigated Torres and pressured venues — often successfully — to cancel Blood on the Dance Floor shows in light of the accusations. The group members also kept tabs on Leonhardt over the years, supporting them and sending them information about Torres that may have pertained to their experiences with him, including old clips from his YouTube vlogs.
On January 1, Leonhardt emailed a member of the group, who in turn reached out to YouTubers and other online investigators who might be interested in Leonhardt’s accusations. Hansen launched his own investigation into Torres in March, interviewing Leonhardt for the first time about their allegations.
Leonhardt said it felt like the internet and how it had treated them over the years was a reflection of society at large and how the perception of sexual-assault survivors had changed in the past decade.
“I don’t want to be that person who thinks, ‘Oh, the internet is always going to suck,’ because the internet is based off of people. It’s made by people,” Leonhardt told Insider. “In 2010, the collective energy on the internet was ‘f—ing attack this rape victim.’ Which was a symptom of back then that was the mentality when rape victims came out.”
Leonhardt said they never pursued legal action before 2020 in part because they had endured years of being told they were a liar and their brain had “really adopted that internet mentality.”
“For 10 years I had this looming fear that any investigation involvement I had would just hurt the other victims, that I was just going to poison the investigation,” Leonhardt said. “And I guess recently I started feeling like I have more ground to stand on.”
To speak to a reporter about Jesus David Torres, aka Dahvie Vanity, email Kat Tenbarge at [email protected].
A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation.