One Sunday night in June 2007, 14-year-old Dianna Farrell sat alone in her bedroom in the dark, listening to a Christian radio show where teens discussed their troubles on-air. The host, a man named Dawson McAllister, seemed kind: he spoke to callers empathetically and even gave them advice. Farrell picked up the phone and dialed in. When McAllister asked her what was wrong, she took a deep breath, then told him about the man who had sexually assaulted her at her home eight days earlier. A show staffer called the police.
The next evening, a patrol car appeared outside Farrell’s house in Pinellas County, Florida. She was terrified. She hadn’t meant to cause any problems — she just wanted someone to talk to. A shy eighth grader who was bullied throughout middle school, Farrell didn’t have many friends. She spent most of her free time on the computer by herself, creating digital artwork and learning how to edit photos online. Just a few weeks earlier, she’d celebrated her acceptance to a high school with a special visual arts program.
Farrell paced as a police officer asked questions about the man she’d described on the radio. She frantically explained that she didn’t know his real name, or how old he was. He just went by “Dahvie.” She’d met him a while ago on Myspace, where he had a popular page as an Orlando-based hairstylist. Dahvie had told Farrell that he wanted to give her a new look, so he drove across the state to dye her hair at her house. The girl’s mother, a single parent with two nursing jobs, had to leave for an evening shift shortly after Dahvie arrived, several hours late. Farrell performed oral sex on him that night.
As the officer pressed for details about the encounter — Farrell’s first sexual experience — she started to cry. The 14-year-old was confused about what had happened and afraid of getting Dahvie into trouble. They’d started chatting online in the weeks leading up to her hair appointment, and he would often sign off with messages declaring his love for her. They were friends, she reminded herself, and Dahvie cared about her. What would happen to him if she told police that after finishing with her hair, he had forced himself into her mouth?
“Are you going to call him? You can’t!” Farrell pleaded through tears. “It was no big deal,” she insisted. Everything was consensual, she said.
After speaking to Farrell and her mother, Captain Kurt Romanosky, a detective from the Crimes Against Children squad of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, called 22-year-old Jesus David Torres, the man known on Myspace as “Dahvie the Elite Hair God.” Romanosky informed Torres that he was aware of the sexual contact with Farrell, and that her mother would not ask cops to arrest Torres if he cut off contact with her daughter. Torres claimed he didn’t know how young Farrell was, said he was sorry and promised not to talk to her again.
Lewd and lascivious battery — sexual penetration of a child between the ages of 12 and 15 by an adult, for which Torres was briefly investigated — is a form of statutory rape and a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Ignorance of the victim’s age is not an admissible defense under Florida law, and 14-year-olds cannot legally consent to sex with 22-year-olds in the state, but police let Torres off anyway.
“Victim Refuses Cooperation with Prosecution,” the police report concluded. Case closed.
Torres moved on. Later that year, he started Blood on the Dance Floor (BOTDF), an electro-pop band that quickly took off among kids and teens. Under the stage name Dahvie Vanity, the singer went on to amass close to 2 million online followers while touring all over the country. And in the 12 years since police gave him a warning for assaulting Farrell, Torres has allegedly sexually assaulted nearly two dozen women and underage girls.
In August, indie publication MetalSucks published the first in-depth exposé into sexual assault allegations against Torres. The article featured interviews with six women — identified by their first names or pseudonyms — who accused him of forced oral sex and groping. Three said they were underage at the time.
HuffPost started investigating shortly thereafter, reaching out to members of a large online support group for survivors of Torres’ alleged abuse, as well as former bandmates, employees and touring partners who had spoken out against the singer on social media. Months later, we published the accounts of 12 women, including three who’d also spoken to MetalSucks, who accused Torres of anal and vaginal rape, molestation and forced oral sex. Two were 13 years old when Torres, then 28 and 29, allegedly assaulted them.
Allegations continue to pour in. A total of 21 women, including Farrell, have now told HuffPost that Torres penetrated or groped them without their consent. The alleged assaults occurred in at least 12 states and two Canadian provinces over more than 10 years. Fourteen accusers said Torres forced them to perform oral sex, in many cases refusing to stop as they struggled to breathe or their mouths bled; the others said he raped or molested them. Sixteen were minors at the time of the alleged incidents. Seventeen are quoted with their real names.
Torres, who is now 34 years old, has yet to face any legal consequences. Despite at least two encounters with law enforcement over alleged sex crimes involving teens, you won’t find him listed in any sex offender registries. He has no criminal record. And Dahvie Vanity is still loved and admired by fans around the world.
A spokesperson for the FBI, which is aware of HuffPost’s reporting, said the agency “neither confirms nor denies the existence of an investigation” into Torres. Authorities in central Florida, where Torres lives with his parents, said there are no complaints against him in their jurisdiction, so there’s no basis for an investigation.
It’s easy to see how Torres has evaded accountability for his alleged crimes. The stories his accusers tell are remarkably consistent and demonstrate a pattern of masterful manipulation: First, he showers his target with attention — flirty texts, online messages, phone calls; and after gaining her trust, he finds a secluded place — a parked car, his tour bus, a parent-free house — and he assaults her, typically yanking her by the hair and forcing her to perform oral sex; after it’s over, he’ll revert to his friendly demeanor, as if the assault never occurred. He mocks and smears the women who do come forward, leading his devout teenage fanbase to attack them as attention-seeking liars.
Even in the age of Me Too, a litany of sexual assault allegations against an individual is not enough to yield charges or an official investigation. Dozens of women accused disgraced actor and comedian Bill Cosby and former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of assaulting them, but in each case it took many years for authorities to take women’s claims against a powerful man seriously enough to investigate and prosecute him.
“So often, victims don’t report because they fear there’s a likelihood that they’ll never be believed,” said former sex crimes prosecutor Boz Tchividjian. “And even as survivors are being empowered to step forward, there’s still a dynamic where survivors are being vilified.”
After the assault, Farrell tried to move forward. She entered ninth grade and started the visual arts program in September 2007, but she wasn’t as excited about her artwork anymore, or school in general. She had developed excellent relationships with her teachers in middle school, but in high school, she was regularly reprimanded for insubordination.
“I got in trouble, a lot,” Farrell said. “I was so traumatized [by the assault] that I became this new person, in order to push away what had happened.”
At school, Farrell would mouth off to teachers and skip class to smoke cigarettes and pot. At home, she would pick fights with her mother. By 2008, when her classmates started listening to Torres’ band, her grades had plummeted.
One afternoon later that year, Farrell was called into the principal’s office. She didn’t think much of it — by that point, she’d been called in so many times she’d lost count. But this time was different: she was failing all her classes, a school counselor explained, and it was too late to get back on track. Farrell was expelled.
“It seemed like she just spiraled to an ‘I don’t care anymore’ attitude,” Farrell’s mother, Lori, recalled. “[The assault] definitely had an impact on Dianna’s life.”
An Open Secret
Two years after police in Pinellas County declined to arrest Torres for receiving oral sex from 14-year-old Farrell, police in Colorado arrested him for allegedly forcing another teenage girl to perform oral sex — and released him without charge.
It was 2009 and BOTDF was in Denver for a performance, two people who witnessed Torres’ arrest, including then-BOTDF singer Garrett ‘Ecstasy’ McLaughlin, told HuffPost. McLaughlin said he and a friend discovered Torres alone in the tour bus with two teenage girls shortly before the band was due onstage. Later, in the middle of the show, cops arrived and apprehended Torres, recalled McLaughlin, who said he then saw one of the girls crying in the parking lot and telling an officer Torres had forced her to perform oral sex. McLaughlin said Torres was released from jail after a few days, though the circumstances remain unclear.
In a video statement to his fans, Torres first claimed his accuser had “mental issues” and “fail[ed] a rape kit,” so the police let him go. Later in the video, however, he hinted that he may have negotiated her silence: “If I settled any case out of court, I wouldn’t even have the freedom to speak of it,” he said, adding, “I always treat women with respect.”
Colorado authorities declined to comment, noting only that sealed records are not accessible to journalists or the public.
As Torres’ stardom grew, rumors of his sexual misconduct became an open secret. Massive online groups devoted to exposing him have existed since BOTDF’s early days. Former touring partners publicly accused Torres of molesting children and refused to perform with him. Venues cancelled BOTDF’s shows in response to widespread pedophilia allegations.
There’s video evidence of Torres’ predatory behavior, too: BOTDF uploaded and deleted a YouTube video in which Torres filmed himself groping a young woman who appeared to be extremely intoxicated, pushing her down and asking, “Do you want to lick my cum?” He continued filming as she collapsed to the floor and flashed the camera at his demand. A YouTube account that appears to belong to the young woman, who did not respond to HuffPost’s request for an interview, left a comment on a version of the video that still exists online: “Take this down, please ... I do not want to be reminded of this awful moment in my life. Where I was sexually assaulted.”
By 2010, the allegations against Torres were so widespread that he started writing songs to deny them. “Look at me, I’m beautiful, not a suspect of rape! ... My name and reputation won’t be the target of a slut!” he sings in one. “Call me a pedophile, underage is not my style,” he asserts in another.
“He made it all seem so normal.”
But Torres continued to prey on girls, wielding his pseudo-fame to coerce many into sexual acts, according to his accusers. They said he’s an expert at winning vulnerable girls’ trust — and their silence.
“He made it all seem so normal, and even came to see me twice more after [he assaulted me],” said Patricia, a woman from Brevard County, Florida, who alleged Torres forced her to perform oral sex in 2010 when she was 15 years old. “I was a confused kid desperate for attention and had misplaced feelings for a predator,” added Patricia, who, like many women quoted in this story, asked to be identified only by her first name for fear of retribution.
“He made me feel special.”
‘A Great Conman’
Despite the darker themes in his songs — humiliating women, killing women, ejaculating on women — Torres paints himself as a goofy, friendly scene kid his fans can relate to. Dahvie Vanity gets it: he knows how it feels to be misunderstood like them, to be an outcast like them, and he preaches positivity on social media because he cares about them. His clichéd messages of self-love and overcoming adversity paired with broody selfies resonate with legions of teens in the “Slash Gash Terror Crew” — BOTDF’s name for its fanbase.
Kay, a young woman from Albany whose name has been changed at her request, said she fell for Torres’ charade and mistook his predatory advances for friendship. She met him in June 2010 at a show in New York City when she was 15. BOTDF was on tour with internet celebrity Jeffree Star, whom she had wanted to meet. But it was Torres, then 25, who approached her that night to ask for her number.
“I was flattered and naïve, a ‘celebrity’ thought I was pretty and picked me out of this big crowd,” she said. They texted for months, and Kay grew to trust Torres. She told him about her dream of working in the music industry and becoming a tour manager, and he seemed eager to help: he invited her to visit him at his home in Florida, where he lived with the band, so she could gain real-world experience by helping BOTDF organize its merchandise.
Kay pleaded with her mother, who eventually agreed that they could fly down together for a quick trip. After meeting Torres for lunch, they drove to his apartment and Kay got to work, sorting through T-shirts and other items in the living room while her mother read a book.
Hours later and still far from being done with the merchandise, Kay realized she would need more time. Torres suggested she sleep on the couch if she wished to work late, so Kay asked her mother if she could spend the night. Her mother agreed and went back to their hotel alone. Kay was a good kid, and Torres had struck her as a genuinely kind person.
“He was a great conman,” Kay’s mother told HuffPost in a recent interview. “He’s a charmer, and not just with the young girls — he was able to talk to me in a way that I felt safe leaving my daughter with him. That doesn’t happen very often.”
Once Kay’s mother had left, Torres announced he was going to bed and urged Kay to join him, she said. When she gently explained she still had work to do, Torres stormed into his bedroom, and she assumed he was going to sleep. But later in the night, when Kay tried to go to the bathroom, which was only accessible by crossing through Torres’ room, he intercepted her and forced her to perform oral sex, she said.
“There weren’t a lot of words exchanged. He just grabbed me by my hair and threw me to the ground,” Kay said. “I was shocked and I felt stupid, like it was my fault.”
When Kay’s mother picked her up early the next morning, Kay was still in shock. She didn’t mention what had transpired; they flew back to New York and she tried to forget it.
“I realized, at 16, that it would be my word against his.”
Torres texted Kay out of the blue months later, in 2011.
“He talked to me as if nothing had happened,” she said of Torres, who invited her to work for BOTDF that summer at Warped Tour.
“Time had passed, and I tried to tell myself that [the assault] was an isolated thing; you know, the brain does that with trauma sometimes, it puts your pain in a box,” she said. “So I made the massive mistake of allowing my desire to tour to cloud my judgment, and I agreed.”
There were no bunks available on the tour bus when Kay, then 16, joined BOTDF at Warped Tour in June, so on her first day after everyone had disembarked, she tried to take a nap in the small room at the back of the vehicle. Torres came back onto the bus, entered the nook where she lay and shut the door, Kay said, then he exposed his penis and tried to remove her clothes.
“You know why I brought you here. You’re gonna give me head, or you’re getting the fuck off this bus,” Kay recalled Torres saying. When she refused, Torres whipped his elbow around and hit her in the face, gashing her lip, she said. Kay fled the bus and stayed with other friends on the tour until her mother could come to take her home. It would be years before she told her mother what had happened, and she never reported Torres to authorities.
“After it happened, I thought to myself, ‘What evidence do I have? There were no witnesses,’” she said. “At the end of the day I realized, at 16, that it would be my word against his.”
Megan Hood, a young woman from Fort Lupton, Colorado, said she was so smitten with Torres as a teenager that he was able to manipulate her into mistaking his abuse for affection.
In April 2014, 16-year-old Hood received a message on Instagram from Torres, who was then 28. He was coming to Denver for a show in July and wanted to take her out. Hood was starstruck — Dahvie Vanity had been her idol since she was 11.
After months of texting, they went to see ”X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and Torres kissed Hood on the lips, she recalled. It was her first kiss.
Later that night, when Hood was back home in bed, Torres called. It was 3:00 a.m. and she was exhausted, but she stayed up to chat with her crush. About an hour into the conversation, he instructed her to go outside because the reception was bad, she said, so she slipped out the door and ― to her complete surprise ― found him lurking in his van in the dark, parked discreetly down the street from her house.
Torres approached Hood, grabbed her wrists and demanded she delete their messages from her phone, she said, then he took her into his van and said he couldn’t wait to “fuck [her] teen mouth.” Then, she said, Torres shoved her head into his crotch and forced her to perform oral sex so violently her mouth bled and clumps of her hair ripped out.
“Sometimes victims go back to their abusers because they have yet to draw the line that they were actually sexually assaulted.”
Over the next several months, Torres texted and called Hood regularly. He spoke to her as if nothing inappropriate had occurred, and the teen wondered if her initial shock had been an overreaction. He was being so nice, she told herself, surely he hadn’t meant to hurt her. He just liked it rough, and she was sexually inexperienced.
When Torres offered to fly her out San Diego, where he lived at the time, she agreed to go.
“Sometimes victims go back to their abusers because they have yet to draw the line that they were actually sexually assaulted, or by going back, they’re doing their best to convince themselves that they weren’t,” explained Tchividjian, the former sex crimes prosecutor.
Sophisticated abusers who behave normally after an assault are often sowing doubt “to deceive their victim into believing that it wasn’t actually an assault,” Tchividjian added, “because what person who commits a horrific crime would then engage with them afterwards as normal?”
Hood went to San Diego in June 2015. She was excited to see Torres, but confused as to why he’d only paid for a one-way trip. She didn’t have a job and couldn’t afford to pay for her return flight. After she arrived, she said, Torres assured her he’d take care of it — for a price.
“He said I’d have to perform sexual favors for him if I wanted to get a ticket back,” Hood said, adding that oral sex counted as $50 toward her flight. “That’s what I had to do to get home.”
His Child Defenders
Torres did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, nor did he publicly acknowledge the dozen allegations HuffPost published on Dec. 18. Instead, he spent the next several days posting selfies and cat photos on Instagram while quietly deleting the maelstrom of angry comments amassing beneath them. “Haters gonna hate lol,” he wrote in a private message to a fan offering support after the article came out, according to a now-deleted screenshot the fan posted on Twitter. “I just block and delete :)”
Though Torres has recently stayed quiet about his own controversies, he weighed in last year after The Daily Beast published a gruesome investigation into emo musician William ‘Control’ Francis, who allegedly ran a violent “sex cult” in which he sexually tortured his victims and forced some to sign contracts in their own blood. Francis has denied the allegations, and said he has engaged in “heavy role play and bondage” with consent.
“People don’t realize how these lies can destroy a man’s life,” Torres lamented.
“I tried to believe for the longest time that he was innocent. Then it happened to me.”
In a testament to the unshakeable influence Torres has over his young, largely female fanbase, teenage girls responded to HuffPost’s story by rushing to his defense on social media, ridiculing his accusers and using the hashtag #DahvieVanityIsInnocent.
“Why come forward now when it so called happened in 2015,” one girl wrote in an Instagram post. “[I] know this is all fake and plotted it’s so disgusting to look up my idols name and just seeing these lies.” Another girl commented: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH STOP PICKING ON DAHVIE FOR ATTENTION.”
“If any of this shit was ‘real,’” wrote another, “Dahvie would be in prison.”
When McLaughlin, the former BOTDF singer, and Jeremy Brian Griffis (known as Jayy Von Monroe), his replacement, quit the band and denounced Torres as a sexual predator, the fans turned on them, too.
“People were writing things to me like, ‘Go kill yourself,’ and death threats,” McLaughlin recalled. “[Torres’ fans] are sticking up for a disgusting, terrible person. They just don’t know it — they’re blind to it because they’re so young. That’s what makes it easy for him.”
Several of Torres’ accusers had defended him — and even lashed out against his attackers — prior to their own alleged assaults.
“There are so many people I’ve attacked on his behalf,” said Kate Offutt, a former BOTDF fan from Ohio, who said Torres molested her at a show in Cleveland when she was 16 years old.
“After seeing so many testimonies you would think maybe these people aren’t lying, maybe there is something behind this, but unfortunately I put myself in denial ... I tried to believe for the longest time that he was innocent,” said Offutt, now 23. “Then it happened to me.”
‘Lazy, Sloppy, Irresponsible Police Work’
For years, Farrell tried to forget what happened to her in Pinellas County when she was 14. She moved to North Carolina, where she’s pursuing an associate arts degree at Southwestern Community College.
Late one night in December, while scrolling on her phone in bed, Farrell came across HuffPost’s first article about Torres. She felt sick to her stomach.
“I always thought what happened to me was an isolated case, I didn’t realize there were other women,” she said. Reading their stories, Farrell explained, is what compelled her to speak out nearly 12 years after police let Torres “slip through their fingers.” She said she regrets protecting Torres when she was young, and believes police had a responsibility to pursue prosecution despite her fear and reluctance to cooperate at the time.
The statute of limitations has passed in Farrell’s case, though Florida lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would allow prosecutors to file sexual battery charges at any time in cases involving survivors who were minors at the time of their alleged assaults.
After reading HuffPost’s story, Farrell’s mother hopes police will investigate every allegation.
“These are just the women who’ve come forward,” she said. “How many other girls are out there who haven’t?”
Those who shared their stories with HuffPost said they spoke out with the hope that others will feel empowered to come forward.
Kristin Gonzalez said Torres forced her to perform oral sex after styling her hair at his Orlando apartment in 2006, when she was 15. A Canadian woman named Justine said Torres groped her breasts at a show in Vancouver in 2010, just after her 16th birthday. Sam, a young woman from St. Louis, said she had an asthma attack when the singer forced her to perform oral sex in the back of his tour bus in 2012, and as the 18-year-old wheezed on the floor, he joked that his penis could have choked her to death. One of Torres’ former girlfriends, who goes by the name Madalyn, said he solicited nude photos from her when she was underage, and was physically, sexually and emotionally abusive to her when they were together from 2014 to 2016.
“These are just the women who’ve come forward. How many other girls are out there who haven’t?”
It’s possible that many of these alleged assaults could have been prevented if cops had handled Farrell’s case differently in 2007.
The Pinellas County police report noted that after interviewing Farrell and her mother, the detective, Romanosky, called Torres to confront him about the assault. Torres apologized for what he did to Farrell and said he didn’t know she was 14. That apology wasn’t interpreted as an official admission of guilt because Torres was speaking over the phone — not in a formal setting, Romanosky recently told HuffPost. Police didn’t feel the need to bring Torres in for proper questioning due to reasons including Farrell’s reluctance to cooperate with the investigation, he said.
″[Torres] could have been charged had we had a cooperative victim, or had the circumstances been different,” Romanosky said. “We could have moved forward.”
There’s a common misconception that victims of crimes must cooperate with cops and prosecutors in order for accused criminals to be arrested and charged. But that’s not the case: although testimony from victims can be crucial to obtaining convictions, it’s police who decide whether to arrest people and prosecutors who decide whether to press charges.
Prosecuting sexual assault cases involving underage victims is more straightforward than prosecuting cases that involve questions of whether the victim consented, explained Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
“The issue of whether they gave consent is out the window because they weren’t old enough to give consent,” she said. And such cases “are not and should not be governed by what the victims alone want,” she added.
The decision not to arrest, charge and prosecute Torres was “incredibly lazy, sloppy [and] irresponsible,” said Tchividjian, who commented on the case at HuffPost’s request.
“Police absolutely had a responsibility to sit down with [Farrell] and her mother and say, ‘Listen, I understand that you don’t want to go forward, I understand all the fears and concerns; we’re going to work with you, we’re going to provide you a support network,’” Tchividjian said. “Perhaps if they had done this, there wouldn’t be additional [accusers].”
But police “don’t have a crystal ball,” Romanosky countered. “He wasn’t what he is now. All we knew is that he was a flamboyant hairdresser that [Farrell] met on Myspace.”
Still At Large
Abandoned by one bandmate after another, rebuffed by former touring partners and barred from several venues, BOTDF hasn’t performed in more than a year. Torres, however, is planning his own comeback. He recently announced that he’s starting a new band. And he’s still living comfortably — he moved into his parents’ house in central Florida after his former bandmate and fiancée, 36-year-old Fallon ‘Vendetta’ Maressa, left him last fall. She did not respond to requests for an interview.
Torres continues to sell BOTDF music and merchandise online while developing his new venture. Internet merch store Big Cartel terminated his page hours after HuffPost published its first report outlining the sexual assault allegations against him. But his products and clothing are still sold on Shopify, which has ignored repeated requests for comment, and his music is still featured on Apple and Spotify. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, where Torres has a total of close to 2 million followers and is accused of grooming teenage girls, also declined to take action against him.
In February, a reporter knocked on Torres’ door to ask about the 21 women who accuse him of committing violent sex crimes.
Having faced years of allegations and multiple police interventions that yielded no legal repercussions, he seemed confident in his impunity.
“Get off my property,” Torres snapped, “or I’ll call the police.”
Adam Weinstein contributed reporting.
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