The NYPD officer convicted in 2013 of conspiracy to kidnap to fulfill an online sexual fantasy about slow-cooking women to death and eating them, and of illegal use of federal databases to target and stalk his intended victims, has been released. A judge overturned the conviction Tuesday. Prosecutors plans to appeal the decision.
The attorney for Gilberto Valle, 30, argued that the First Amendment guarantees his client ”the right to fantasize about whatever and whomever they like, free from government interference.”
U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in a 118-page opinion, agreed that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Valle was going to go through with murder and cannibalism, ”The evidentiary record is such that it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle’s Internet communications about kidnapping are fantasy role-play.”
Valle, who had not yet been sentenced and faced life in prison, has been released on a $100,000 bond. He will have to live with his mother for his court-ordered, GPS-monitored home detention, and participate in mental health treatment. He is to have no Internet access.
Valle’s ex-wife Kathleen Mangan, one of his seemingly-intended victims, was the person who initially alerted authorities to his online activities. She testified against Valle in court, and has not commented on the judge’s decision. Since her divorce from Valle last July, Mangan reportedly cut ties with both Valle and his family.
Prosecutor Hadassa Waxman, however, announced plans to appeal the judge’s decision saying, ”The government believes the jury got it right.”
The lesser charge against Valle of illegal use of federal databases, which prosecutors argued that Valle used to identify, befriend and stalk his victims still stands , and carries up to one year in prison. Valle is satisfied with the verdict, saying, ‘I want to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone who has been hurt, shocked or offended by my infantile actions,” but laments having lost his job, wife and custody of his daughter.
Now the other two men convicted with Valle, former Stuyvesant High School teacher Michael Van Hise and former Former Stuyvesant Librarian Christopher Asch have hope that their convictions will also be overturned.
The chats of these other men were more concrete, however, than Valle’s, and are harder to dismiss as pure fantasy,
Asch: “Yeah, so anyways, I went to Home Depot and picked up some things I thought we could use, like duct tape and a bucket, and some cable ties…I’ve got a couple of speculums and I got another mouth gag and so, been collecting stuff like that. At any rate. Got some masks.”
Meltz: “There you go. You don’t want to be recognized either. So that’s one of the good things about that.”
Asch: “Although it’s getting to be the wrong time of year to be wearing masks, but.”
Asch: “So, I think we just have to think. This is a fairly high-risk operation. I mean, as far as I’m concerned. Trying to snatch somebody off the street, home invasion, I think they’re pretty high risk.”
Meltz: “Everytime you do anything it’s a risk. And like you said, all you try to do is minimize it. Because the end result is going to be fantastic.”