The FBI didn’t walk away from the Dark Fetish Network after Valle’s arrest. On January 4, 2013, they arrested Vanhise at his home in Hamilton, New Jersey. The 22-year-old admitted to the police that he had violent sexual fantasies, some even involving children. But his wife, Bolice, defended him as a “big teddy bear” and noted that she’d known about his fetish before they got married. “I was cool with it,” she told reporters. “It’s disturbing, yeah. But you have to accept your partner’s flaws in a marriage … I’m not perfect. He’s not perfect.”
In April, working from information provided by Vanhise, the FBI arrested two more men who had been chatting with one another on DFN: Richard Meltz, a 65-year-old police chief in Bedford, Massachusetts, and Robert Asch, a 61-year-old former librarian at Stuyvesant High School who in 2009 had been arrested and accused of inappropriately touching four male students (the charges were later dropped). Unlike Valle, these men’s actions in the physical world were unambiguous: Asch and Meltz had both met with an undercover agent; at a meeting, Asch brought with him a bag containing a Taser, meat hammer, skewers, and a dental retractor. Along with Vanhise, they are scheduled to go to trial later this month. “You might say they learned from Gil, and that they needed this person to commit a substantive act,” says Zas. “The only substantive act they had from Gil was a brunch.”
Last spring, Dale Bolinger (a.k.a. Moody Blues) told the Post that all his conversations with Valle were fantasy. “None of this is real,” he said. “I’m an asshole. I’m an idiot … It was my stupidity, because I went and put stupid things online, thinking that it was funny.” He was arrested last November by British authorities working with the FBI. His next court date is in February.
Dietz, for his part, has no problem with monitoring chat rooms on the DFN or elsewhere for possible offenders. “I’m not someone who looks around for wrongful convictions. I don’t want to be an advocate. And I guarantee you that on this same website they can find people you can go after.” The Valle case, in his view, demonstrates what happens when a prosecution takes place without any sense of what does and doesn’t constitute a dangerous mind.
“I find something troubling,” Dietz says, “about the whole world’s failure to recognize that just because someone has a desire doesn’t mean they do it.”