By Rich Bockmann
The defense team for the Forest Hills man accused of conspiring online to kidnap, torture and eat numerous women likened his schemes during closing arguments Thurday to the 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast that caused widespread panic among those who thought aliens were actually invading the planet.
“His stories are no more real than the alien invasion,” attorney Julia Gatto said of Gilberto Valle, the NYPD officer the tabloids have dubbed the “Cannibal Cop.”
For more than a week now Valle, 28, has been on trial in Manhattan federal court, accused of conspiring over the Internet to kidnap, torture, rape, cook and eat women after the FBI discovered what prosecutors contend were detailed plans and graphic pornography on his computer.
Valle’s lawyer, however, argued that the Archbishop Molloy alumnus was engaging in nothing more than fantasy role playing and asked the jury members not to be swayed by their reactions to the perverse nature of his fantasies.
“Now they’re disgusting. There’s no denying that,” Gatto said. “But they’re also preposterous, mere fantasy role play.”
Gatto has accused the prosecution of being the “thought police” and maintained that Valle took no concrete steps indicating he actually planned to kidnap any of the women.
Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, argued the officer crossed the line from fantasy into reality when he conducted what they characterized as “surveillance” on several of his alleged targets.
Valle is also accused of inappropriately accessing a law-enforcement database to look up several of the women in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database.
“There are limits to free speech when it will actually place people in harm,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson said. “What Mr. Valle did here is about 1,000 steps beyond yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”
The case now goes to the jury of six men and six women.