If you were a tourist visiting Italy between 2012 and 2014 using the travel site Couchsurfing, you may have liked the look of host Dino Maglio.
He was a police officer. He seemed friendly on his profile. He had nothing but positive reviews.
He was also a serial sex predator.
As told on Stitcher’s newest investigative reporting podcast, Verified, 14 women from around the world ultimately testified against Maglio – telling remarkably similar stories of being drugged and raped while staying in his home.
Warning: Spoilers below
Maglio, 39, began making his home in Padua available through Couchsurfing in 2012. The website allows locals in cities around the world to open up their homes to tourists for free.
“I love to eat good Italian food and drink good Italian wine with my guests if possible,” Maglio wrote on his Couchsurfing profile, according to the podcast.
What he didn’t say was that he also sometimes laced his “good Italian wine” with benzodiazepines – a tranquilizer that can also lead to memory loss when mixed with alcohol, Verified producer Dan Bloom said in an interview with Oxygen.com.
It was while his guests were incapacitated by the drugs that Maglio is accused of raping them.
“[Maglio] was drunk. I wanted to go to sleep but he insisted on offering us his special wine,” Irena, an alleged victim, told Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald. “Quite a few hours later I woke up and I couldn’t walk properly. I was seeing double, triple. … He began to touch me … and he tried to kiss me.
“I was disgusted but I couldn’t move. I don’t remember anything after that.”
Because of the tranquilizers’ effects on memory, Maglio’s victims often didn’t immediately realize what had happened to them, Bloom said. Although some women did seek legal action soon after their stay with Maglio, all but one left Italy before reporting anything.
Pressing international charges is very difficult in a case like this, and none of the women’s initial attempts succeeded, Bloom said.
A lot of the time, he added, women said Maglio simply shamed or gaslighted them into silence.
“It took me some days to realize I was sexually abused,” an alleged victim from Poland told Italian reporters, according to The Guardian. “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 like nobody would ever want me again after this.”
All of Maglio’s victims were traveling with friends or family, according to Bloom. Though Maglio would sometimes drug the whole group, other times he only managed to drug some of them, Bloom said.
This is how he was finally caught.
In March 2014, an Australian woman found her 16-year-old daughter in Maglio’s bed, groggy and not wearing any underwear, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Rather than leaving the country, she insisted on going to authorities in Venice to report an assault, Bloom said.
Maglio was arrested. He was fired from the Carabinieri, Italy's police force, and in 2015 was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for raping a minor, Bloom said.
While Maglio was in prison, 13 other alleged victims banded together and worked with prosecutors to press charges.
Maglio was released from prison on good behavior two years early, in 2019, Verified producer Susanne Reber said in an interview with Oxygen.com. A few weeks later, he received another 12 years and eight months in connection with the charges leveled by the the 13 other women. He wasn't convicted on all 13 counts of rape; in some cases, he was convicted on lesser charges of drugging and coerced sexual contact.
Maglio has since appealed his case. Under Italian law, the court may decide whether a convict appealing a sentencing will be kept in prison or released on house arrest, Reber said. The court chose to release Maglio.
He currently lives with his mother in southern Italy, awaiting the result of his appeal, Reber said. He can go wherever he likes during the day, though he has to sleep in her house at night.
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