Date
20 October 2017
In this photo provided by one of the alleged victims, Dino Maglio is seen with several of his female guests. Photo: The Guardian
In this photo provided by one of the alleged victims, Dino Maglio is seen with several of his female guests. Photo: The Guardian

Italian cop ‘used website to drug, sexually assault travelers’

A 35-year-old policeman from Padua in northern Italy appears to be the perfect host: kind, fun-loving and generous. 

Using the social website Couchsurfing.com, he offers his home to travelers for free.

But behind his gentle facade lurks a serial rapist, according to several women who accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting them.

Dino Maglio, the carabiniere who used the alias Leonardo on his Couchsurfing profile, is facing trial in March on charges of raping an Australian woman, who was 16 at the time of the alleged attack and was traveling with her mother and sister, the Guardian reported.

Prosecutors said Maglio has admitted to drugging the minor with a tranquilizer and then having sex with her.

The case has prompted many other women to come out and accuse Maglio of assaulting them after they used the popular website to arrange to stay at his home.

The chief prosecutor is now investigating three more similar cases with Maglio as the suspected rapist, the report said. He also received statements from six other women who made similar allegations.

The statements were collected by journalists at the Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI).

One of the complainants was from Hong Kong, who said she became unconscious for 12 hours after drinking a glass of Maglio’s wine.

When she posted a negative review on his Couchsurfing profile, Maglio sent her a threatening message over Facebook and demanded that she remove the review.

She said she ignored the threat and soon began receiving messages from strangers who had had similar experiences with Maglio.

“It took me some days to realize I was sexually abused,” another alleged victim from Poland told IRPI. “So I wrote to him on Facebook. I asked him what happened and he admitted we had sex. I felt like a whore. I felt nobody would ever want me again after this.”

“He made me think it was my fault, that I wanted it,” the Guardian quoted her as saying.

Jennifer Billock, chief executive of Couchsurfing, said the safety of users was a top priority and that the company was constantly “evolving our tools and processes to find and halt abusers of our system”.

“We’re reminded that these women could have been any of us, our friends or family,” she told the newspaper.

She added that members were encouraged to look for verified profiles with multiple positive reference and reviews.

But in the case of Maglio, one alleged victim said he told her that Couchsurfing had removed his earlier profile because it had already so many positive reviews and that he created a new one.

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CG

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