"I understand that people may think this is funny, but this is no laughing matter," said Milt Martelack, the town watch's senior adviser. "We've had a couple individuals reach out to us. We're taking this matter very seriously, and we're working vigorously with police to get this guy off the streets."
A police source yesterday confirmed that the Special Victims Unit is investigating the man after several women from the Mayfair area filed reports describing similar encounters with a man displaying what the source called a "major sexual cheese fetish."
And although news of the bizarre case shocked many Mayfair residents, Gabby Chest - who lives in nearby Bridesburg - recognized the behavioral pattern instantly.
In July 2012, Chest, then 19 and having just broken up with her boyfriend, created a profile on the dating website OkCupid.
Within days, she said, she was contacted by a "really strange guy," who sent her a private message that detailed a very specific request.
"He said he was looking for someone to perform masturbation on him with cheese," Chest said. "He kept saying how strong his urges were and how desperate he was to find someone to help him with them."
An excerpt from that message, which Chest sent the Daily News, details the origin of the man's self-described "fetish."
"I started to compare girls to cheese due to their milky complections [sic], girls are soft, smooth feeling and tend to like dairy products more," he wrote.
"That and typical advertising, always using a girl to advertise dairy products. So cheese is what I started to use as a replacement for having sex with girls."
It's not surprising, then, that Chest recognized the man who had contacted her as the "Swiss Cheese Pervert" as soon as she saw his picture on the Mayfair Town Watch's Facebook page.
"There's no doubt it was him; it looked exactly like the picture on his profile," she said. "I was scared and shocked. I never thought the guys you see on those sites would be so close to me."
So Chest shared her story with the town watch, adding her voice to the growing number of people outraged at the man's behavior - like Maura O'Connell, a lifelong Mayfair resident who said she had experiences with pervs exposing themselves to her during her childhood.
"My biggest fear, and I know this from experience, is that young girls who see this won't feel safe in the neighborhood," she said.
Despite her own fears as a youth, O'Connell stayed in Mayfair, coming to terms with what she says is the reality of the situation.
"There are sick people wherever you go; I don't think the people who do these things live exclusively in the Northeast," she said. "You can run into people like this anywhere. Why should I leave the place I grew up in?"
Still, O'Connell is taking precautions: She only takes her daily run around her neighborhood with a friend, and she keeps a close eye on her three kids when they play outside.
"That's not a Mayfair thing," she said. "Parents today know what's out there and are always on their guard. I think we'll all be happier when they catch this guy."
No one agrees with that more than Joe DeFelice, chairman of the Mayfair Civic Association.
"The bottom line is that this flies in the face of all the positive improvements we've been trying to make," he said. "It's uncalled for and disheartening to think this guy is coming to our neighborhood to bother women."
DeFelice is hopeful that the neighborhood's town watch, which he called the city's best, can lead police to catching the "Swiss Cheese Pervert."
"If they have a bead on him, I have faith," he said. "I hope he gets cheese sandwiches in prison."
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