Cannibal Fantasies Will Keep Cop in the Hole


MANHATTAN (CN) - A New York City police officer accused of conspiring to kidnap, cook and eat women he fantasized about in Internet chat rooms will remain in solitary confinement until his January trial, a federal judge ruled.

Gilberto Valle, 28, earned the nickname "cannibal cop" after federal prosecutors released a criminal complaint in late October, detailing emails and instant messages between him and other users on a website catering to deviant sexual fantasies.

Valle's defense attorney, Julia Gatto, sought for a third time on Tuesday to get her client out of Manhattan Correctional Center, or MCC, where he has been in solitary confinement to keep other inmates from assaulting him.

This time, Gatto had a recommendation from pretrial services and a psychiatrist, concluding that Valle should be allowed to stay at his mother's house under strict supervision until trial.

Prison officials and the defense's psychologist claimed that Valle's fantasies would not put women at risk if he were released before trial, Gatto said.

Under the proposed terms, Valle would be monitored by GPS and have no access to the Internet.

U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe said that Valle would make a "compelling" candidate for pretrial release in "an ordinary case."

Valle has a degree in psychiatry and criminal justice from the University of Maryland, six years of service in the NYPD, no record of committing crimes or abusing drugs and strong ties with a family that has stood by him in court during pretrial hearings.

But the judge was not persuaded that his Internet activities were idle chatter.

"It appears to me that the weight of the evidence favors the government," Gardephe said.

The Tuesday hearing offered a preview of the arguments, experts and evidence the jury will hear.

"Of course, it is our argument that my client had no intention of harming any women," Gatto told the court.

Gatto said that she and a paralegal checked out the website Valle had visited, to research the case. She said the site has more than 38,000 members, representing "the whole rainbow of human depraved sexuality," including role-playing, genital mutilation and cannibalism.

"To someone who does not understand this underworld that exists on the Internet, this is beyond comprehension," Gatto said.
Disclaimers on the website warn visitors that it was intended as an outlet for fantasies, Gatto said.

"I didn't know about it. I didn't want to know about it. Now I know about it," she said.

Gatto said that U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan had likened this subculture to "Dungeons and Dragons," in an order denying bail.

Gatto compared its visitors to "Star Trek geeks" and "sci-fi movie guys."

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Hadassa Waxman said that Valle had crossed the line from fantasy to conspiracy.

Waxman said that the FBI found that he had created files on more than 100 women by breaking into the National Crime Information Center database, and that he set plans in motion for two victims.

He allegedly created a document, titled "Abducting and Cooking [Victim-1]: a Blueprint," with her name, date of birth, height, weight and bra size and a list of "materials needed," including a car, chloroform and rope.

But the FBI never found any of these materials in his possession, Gatto said.

"When Mr. Valle is arrested, there's no rope in his car," Gatto said. "There's no apparatus."

Prosecutors said Valley drove more than 4 hours to Maryland to meet this woman.

Gatto downplayed the trip as "someone meeting up with a friend for brunch."

But Waxman said the woman didn't view the trip so innocently in an interview with the FBI.

"She thought it was weird because they didn't see each other for quite a long time," the prosecutor said.

In February, Valle allegedly promised to abduct "Victim 2," an acquaintance of his ex-wife, for $5,000, and take her to another man he chatted with in New Jersey.

His cell phone signal allegedly placed him near this woman's house a month later.

Valle claimed in a post-arrest interview that he had been dropping his wife off there, but both women said that was false. Now Valle claims that his memory failed him, and that he actually was working a shift with the NYPD counterterrorism unit.

Gatto said that no money changed hands, and the fact that nobody got hurt showed that this was fantasy.

Waxman replied, "Essentially, she's proffering because the government hasn't found a dead body in an oven, there is no crime. ... The fact that nothing happened is completely fortunate."

Waxman added that the Internet chats showed that the alleged conspirators delayed the plot to save the meal for Thanksgiving.

Gatto said that remark should not be taken seriously.

"It highlights the preposterousness of this world," she said.

The defense's psychiatric expert, Alexander Bardey, a clinical instructor at the NYU Langone Medical Center, found in his assessment of Valle: "The boundaries between fantasy and reality have not been significantly breached."

But the judge said the doctor "carefully hedged" his finding by calling it a "preliminary assessment" and stating that "follow-up sessions are necessary."

Waxman said that the FBI's psychological experts at Quantico reached the opposite conclusion.

"We have a battle of the experts here," she said.

After the hearing, Valle's mother shouted to her son, "Stay strong!" and pounded her chest.

Valle will stay in MCC's special housing unit until the trial starts on Jan. 22, 2013.

Source: Courthouse News Service