An ex-librarian at Stuyvesant High School was convicted of conspiring to kidnap, rape and kill women and girls yesterday, after a jury found that he and a cohort were plotting to bring dark fetish fantasies to life.
The former librarian, Christopher Asch, and New Jersey car mechanic Michael Van Hise were found guilty of plotting to torture and kill a number of women and girls in Van Hise's family, including his sister-in-law and young girls under the age of 10. Another woman, an undercover FBI agent, was also tapped as one of the alleged victims in the plot; the two men were arrested in April, and the jury delivered the verdict last night.
The case is similar to that of Gilberto Valle, the so-called "Cannibal Cop" who was convicted last year of plotting to kidnap, kill and eat a number of women. And as in Valle's case, Asch and Van Hise's attorneys argued their clients were simply concocting sick fantasies, and would never act on the urges. “That’s the thrill of role-playing - collecting items, stuff like that - but it’s all safe,” Brian Waller, Asch's lawyer, said in court.
But prosecutors said the conspiracy was real. "None of this was fake," Assistant U.S. Attorney Hadassa Waxman said in her closing argument. "This was not sick entertainment. ... They were absolutely serious." Trial evidence included a 20-million-volt stun gun, a whip, clamps, skewers and gynecological tools. Asch faced sexual abuse charges while working at Stuyvesant in 2009, though those charges were eventually dropped.
No date has been set for sentencing, but both men could face life in prison.