The Jessi Slaughter Cyberbullying Controversy refers to series of abusive posts made toward Damien Leonhardt (formerly known as Jessica Leonhardt and the internet aliases Jessi Slaughter and KerliGirl13). At the age of 10, Leonhardt became a target of a massive 4chan raid in July 2010 after launching a public tirade against the image board community in a series of YouTube videos. At the time, many believed rumors that she was in a sexual relationship with Bood on the Dance Floor singer Dahvie Vanity (real name: Jesus David Torres). The feud quickly led to the creation of hundreds of image macros and remix videos mocking Jessica and her father, who later became involved in the drama, and prompted one of the first public discussions of cyberbullying as a serious issue in the news media. Between 2013 and 2020, Leonhardt publicly accused Torres of sexual assault, which Torres denied. More than 20 women have accused Torres of assault.
On July 10th, 2010, StickyDrama user tdomf_e8e13 posted an accusation that the vocalist of electronica band Blood On The Dance Floor (BOTDF) Dahvie Vanity was pursuing a sexual relationship with the underaged Jessica Leonhardt.
"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 fuck last sumer when she was 10.
On July 12th, Leonhardt posted a response on StickyDrama, denying the claims.
"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!"
Feud With 4chan
On July 14th, 2010, a video of Leonhardt complaining about being harassed was posted on the /b/ (random board) on 4chan (re-upload shown below, left). Shortly after, Leonhardt was inundated with attacks on the microblogging site Tumblr. Later that night, Leonhardt uploaded a response video in which her father warned attackers that they would found proclaiming "you done goofed" (shown below, right).
Anonymous soon uncovered her personal information including phone number, address and her Twitter account. People soon began flooding the Leonhardt' household with prank calls (shown below, left) and hate e-mails. In a Stickam video uploaded on July 15th (shown below, right), Jessi is seen answering the phone during one of the prank calls.
Jessi's Father's Rant
Following the relentless waves of harassment carried out by the trolls, Jessi posted a tearful response video on YouTube, in which her father Gene Leonhardt suddenly comes into the shot and delivers an angry rant.
Unwittingly, he delivered a highly exploitable speech that quickly became adapted into catchphrases and image macros including "You done goofed," "backtraced," "cyberpolice," and "consequences will never be the same." Shortly after, single serving sites like YouDunGoofd.com and BecauseIBacktracedIt.com were launched.
Hoax: Jessi Slaughter Given PCP
Circa 3:00pm (EST) on July 16th, 2010, baseless rumors of "Jessi Slaughter Given PCP by Her Father" began to rise rapidly on YouTube and Google Trends. The malicious hoax was picked up by social bookmarking services and blogs, where it was soon revealed as mere disinformation propagated by the trolls using tactics like Googlebombing.
On YouTube, viewers followed up with their own remixes, re-enactments and other commentaries on Jessi and her father's rant.
According to Jessi's mom, Dianne Leonheardt, in addition to the prank calls placed after her phone number was spread on the internet, the family began receiving death threats. Because of this, Gawker reported on the evening of July 18th that Jessi had been placed under police protection soon after the video went viral. The local sheriff has begun a criminal investigation into this calls and a court has ordered her to stay off the internet until at least July 21st. In addition, the family is currently under constant police surveillance.
Several hours later, Gawker updated the article to note that a spokeswoman from the Marion County, Florida sheriff's department stated that, while there is a current investigation involving an eleven year old girl, they are looking into the existence of pornographic pictures of her and the prank calls referencing them. The spokeswoman was also quoted as saying "There have been no death threats or threats of harm in any way."
The latest footage uploaded on August 2nd, 2010 allegedly shows a heated argument between Jessi and her dad, recorded by another Tinychat user who was logged in the same chat room during her side exchange with father.
Child Abuse Charges
On March 25th, 2011, The Daily What reported that Gene Leonhardt appeared in court to plead not guilty to child abuses charges. He was released on a $5000 bond.
According to an official report filed by a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy, Loenhardt supposedly slapped Jessica in the mouth during a heated argument, causing her to bleed. Leonhardt, who police say appeared intoxicated, claims he struck his daughter after she punched him, and that the blood on her face was “theatrical blood.”
On July 7th, 2011, additional police reports were released by Marion County Sheriff’s Office and The Smoking Gun published an article revealing the details of Jessi's behavioral issues and Gene Leonhardt's arrest earlier in February.
4chan vs. Gawker
Included in Adrian Chen's series of Gawker articles about the situation was one entitled "The Art of Trolling: Inside a 4chan Smear Campaign." After outlining 4chan's plan of attack against Dahvie Vanity with screenshots and links, Chen linked to a chatroom, daring readers to troll it. Enraged, /b/ set out to take down Gawker's main servers around noon on July 19th. When the site did not go down, an attack against Adrian Chen was launched. Gawker posted an article detailing the entire plot, stating that they were not afraid. Coverage of the attempt to take down Gawker appeared on the Village Voice blog and New York Magzine's Daily Intel.
Jessi's Mother Speaks
On July 20th, Momlogic interviewed Jessi's mother; revealing her own lack of parental supervision.
ml: Were you aware that your daughter had been making and posting these videos online?
DL: Jessica has a webcam and a computer. All of her friends have webcams, too, so they video chat with each other. I knew she'd made a video to apply for "America's Got Talent." She sings and sent an audition video in. I had no idea she was making other videos. I have seen her chatting with her friends, but not making videos.
ml: When did you find out about the videos, and what was your reaction?
DL: The officers had said there were videos, but Jess denied making them. Then my mother-in-law called and said there were videos. But I haven't watched them. I can't be in the room 24/7. We tried to talk to Jess last night, but she got very upset all over again. I am trying to get her back to normal. It's taken a very emotional toll on her. I don't know if she made these videos or not, but she says she didn't. Right now, I am trying to figure out what's real and what's not. This has been very difficult to deal with.
Jessi on Good Morning America
On July 22nd Jessi appeared on Good Morning America to discuss how the reaction to her videos has changed her life and revealed she would begin counseling.
4chan prepared for a mention from the show with Operation /b/ipolar, and played the Good Morning America theme in the background of the /b/ board with a stickied thread featuring this image. That day, "4chan is family oriented" became a trending search on Google Insights.
On August 11th, 2011, YouTuber HiroKasumi uploaded a video titled "Jessi Slaughter Apologies (2011)" where Jessica apologizes to the band Blood on the Dance Floor for accusing them of rape. She claims she is currently in foster care after going through several mental institutions. The video is recorded by a friend of hers since she has no computer privileges
Death of Jessi's Father
On August 14th, 2011, Jessi's mother posted a status update on her Facebook account claiming that her husband Gene Leonhardt passed away on August 11th, the same day her apology video was uploaded, due to a massive heart attack:
Gene C. Leonhardt, 53, of Dunnellon died Aug. 11, 2011, at home.
Return to YouTube
On Jan 23rd, 2012, Slaughter, who now had changed their first name to "Damien", created a new YouTube account under the name "ShinigamiKilla." On March 7th, they created the "Gorgonize The Masses" Tumblr blog, featuring several posts answering questions from fans. On April 8th, the @DamienAkuma Twitter account was created, which included several tweets referencing the mythical creature Slender Man.
On April 27th, a video titled "Lovely – MorningStar [A work in progress]" was uploaded to the channel, which included a song written by Leonhardt accompanied by several photographs of herself (shown below, left). On May 28th, a thread was created on the cosmetic-related GuruGossip Forums, which linked to the Shinigamikilla channel and claimed that Leonhardt had become transgender. On June 3rd, Leonhardt uploaded a video (shown below, right) announcing they would be answering questions from viewers but warned not to ask questions about their deceased father. On June 5th, the Internet culture news blog The Daily Dot published an article titled "Controversial Cyberbully Victim Jessica Leonhardt returns to YouTube, remarking that Leonhardt appeared to be surprisingly happy in many of the new videos.
Chris Hansen Investigation
On March 25th, 2020, Leonhardt appeared on Chris Hansen's YouTube show "Have A Seat With Chris Hansen" and publicly accused Jesus David Torres of sexual assault when they were 10. The video received more than 235,000 views.
On July 2nd, 2020, Leonhardt was the subject of Insider article about their abuse by Torres. The article states that more 21 women have also come forward against Torres. Insider states:
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.
 StickyDrama – @BOTDFmusic Dahvie Vanity And Jessi Slaughter Explained By Jessi Slaughter Herself (page unavailable)
 StickyDrama (via Wayback Machine) – Dahvie Vanity of BOTDFmusic at it again with Jessi Slaughter
 Village Voice Blog – Is Gawker Trying To Get Attacked By 4Chan's /b/ Board? Operation: Gawker Fawker!
 Momlogic (via Wayback Machine) – EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mom Defends 11-Year-Old YouTube Sensation Jessi Slaughter