David D’Amato: How Did the Alleged Tickle Fetishist Die?

If HBO’s ‘Tickled’ (2016) and its follow-up short ‘The Tickle King’ (2017) make one thing evident, it’s that David P. D’Amato was quite a controversial individual for reasons more than one. After all, these documentaries delve deep into the dark side of competitive endurance tickling, plus how a majority of it has consistently apparently led back to this New Yorker for decades. They actually indicate such contests were rarely about tickles; instead, they seemed to be about an addiction to control, harass, as well as overpower someone in a way that would humiliate them.

David D’Amato’s Early Years Were Far From Ordinary

Since David was born on July 4, 1961, to Brenda Woods and George D’Amato as an only child, he was supposedly quite sheltered at every step of the way despite having full financial comforts. His father was actually a founding partner of the revered D’Amato and Lynch law firm, but his mother was ostensibly so overprotective she never even let him ride a bike in fear he would get hurt. However, what’s worse is that he soon ended up becoming a target for bullying not just in school but also in the local neighborhood, according to his estranged stepmother in the original film.

Nevertheless, David still managed to graduate from Manhasset High School as a hockey star before enrolling at Fairfield University in Connecticut, where he played for their team as a goalie too. Then came his decision to pursue a Master’s in Guidance & Counseling from Boston University, following which he kickstarted his career in education in the hopes of positively impacting this world. But alas, his private life wasn’t nearly as ideal — per the film, he soon developed a tickle fetish, and even his stepmother claimed he had no stable romantic relationship at any given point in time.

David D’Amato Has Seen His Share of Ups and Downs

According to the production, it was around the mid-1990s when David apparently first assumed the persona of a beautiful blonde-haired college-aged woman named Terri “Tickle” DiSisto to fuel his fetish. Through her, he purportedly hired others to shoot endurance tickling videos under the pretense of them being for “her personal collection,” only for them to end up on the internet if they ever said no. If anybody ever refuted Terri in any manner, their previous videos or audition tapes would allegedly get posted with all their personal information, they and their families would be harassed with crude, cruel messages, and even their schools/universities/workplaces would get flooded with defamatory emails.

In the end, this reportedly reached such an extent even the Secret Service got involved because Terri, posing as a Drexel University student who’d tried to cut off their bond, threatened to bomb the white house. It was shortly after this that her identity was positively revealed to be David P. D’Amato of Garden City, New York, a school Guidance Counselor turned Director of Guidance as well as Assistant Principal. According to records, in the period of a decade, he’d held different positions at Kildonan School, Cornwall Central High School, Warwick Valley District, Hempstead District, plus Briarcliff District, and West Hempstead High School.

David was consequently arrested, only to be allowed to plead guilty to merely two misdemeanor counts of computer fraud and abuse in 2001 — nothing about the tickling videos was mentioned. He was then sentenced to two years in a halfway house under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons while also being able to study law, but alas, Fordham University soon expelled him due to his conviction, and he did finish his sentence behind bars. However, thanks to the support of family, he later managed to get back on his feet — he earned a Juris Doctorate from Hofstra University in 2011, following which he supposedly dedicated most of his time to serving as a legal advisor to various firms, donating to charities, or running the self-established George G. D’Amato Family Foundation.

The Allegations Against David D’Amato Are Severe

Despite the fact David seemed to have returned to his life as well as the society determined to be a model citizen after his prison stint, the documentary claims he did not leave his fetish behind. Instead, he apparently found more ways to get away with his desires, including continuing to use Terri’s name until 2006 before establishing Jane O’Brien Media under the banner of a German company called Nederdietsen, per the production. It has also been alleged that the latter in itself has a proprietorship of nearly 300 domain names related to tickling, plus that he used the media/production house to defraud people again by assuming the personage of Jane O’Brien or Debbie Kuhn.

According to ‘Tickled,’ David ostensibly even had bank cards under both these names to hire participants from across the globe to shoot the endurance tickling videos per his liking, only for them to be harassed if they ever refused — just as in the case of Terri “Tickle” DiSisto. We should also mention that the documentary inferred “Terri” claimed to be hospitalized with Infectious Mononucleosis (aka mono) during the period the then-law aspirant was imprisoned as a way to justify their complete absence.

Therefore, following this documentary’s initial screenings in early 2016, David filed a lawsuit against New Zealand-based filmmakers David Farrier and Dylan Reeve on the grounds of false accusations — this was unlike the empty threats of legal actions and forged warning notices they’d received while filming. In his suit, the New Yorker alleged their implications of him having extorted young individuals (including minors) to be in tickling videos and having a connection with Jane O’Brien Media were untrue.

As if that’s not enough, David also sued his stepmother for $40 million due to her statements at the end of the original film, claiming they were intentionally slandering to harm his all aspects of his life — but alas, both defamation suits were dismissed without prejudice. It turns out, according to the film, that David was apparently able to run his global tickling ring thanks to his inheritance — his father left him a trust fund when his passed in 2002, whereas his mother left him over $5 million when she died in 2014.

David D’Amato Died in 2017

It was on March 13, 2017, that 55-year-old David D’Amato passed away, allegedly in his Garden City, New York, home. According to his obituary, it was a sudden death, indicating he likely died of unexpected natural causes that no one saw coming — no other details have ever been made public, so we don’t know much else about the matter. However, we do know that while he was predeceased by both his parents, he was survived by his paternal aunt, Gloria D’Amato Johnson, and her husband, Kenneth Johnson, with whom he was very close.

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