Judge Overturns Verdict Over Lack Of Evidence
Dubbed the “Cannibal Cop,” a former police officer from Forest Hills was freed from federal jail on Tuesday, July 1, after a judge overturned his conviction on charges in an Internet conspiracy to kidnap, rape, kill and eat women.
Gilberto Valle, formerly assigned to Manhattan’s 23rd Precinct, was released by U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe into the custody of his mother one day after the jurist overturned the former officer’s March 2013 conviction.
Gardephe declared, in a 118-page opinion on the case, that “it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle’s Internet communications about kidnapping are fantasy roleplay.”
The judge further stated federal prosecutors failed to provide ample evidence to the contrary.
Prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney of Southern New York filed an appeal, and though they had requested Valle remain incarcerated, the judge ordered him placed under house arrest on $100,000 bond. After nearly two years in jail, Valle reportedly went home with his mother to her Middle Village residence.
Federal agents initially arrested Valle in October 2012 at his Forest Hills home for allegedly participating in the conspiracy and hacking into the National Crime Information Center to obtain information about potential victims.
Through court-authorized search warrants, law enforcement agents seized his computer, which contained photos of 80 women, as well as conversations he had on a fetish website in which he allegedly expressed a desire to kidnap, cook and eat women.
Defense attorneys argued Valle was engaged in only a dark fantasy with no malice intended. Judge Gardephe, in his opinion, seemed to agree, noting that “once the lies and fantastical elements are stripped away, what is left are deeply disturbing misogynistic chats and emails written by an individual obsessed with imagining women he knows suffering horrific sex-related pains, terror and degradation.”
But the communications alone, he indicated, were not grounds enough to warrant his conviction.