“People can be convicted for thoughts”: ‘Cannibal cop’ attorney says decision will be appealed

Posted at 8:30 PM, Mar 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-12 22:35:22-04

His online fantasies to kidnap, sexually torture, cook and eat women were more than just gory make believe.  That’s what a jury concluded in its guilty verdict against so-called Cannibal Cop Gilberto Valle that left him, his lead attorney and his family in tears.

“I’m shocked!” was the terse reaction from the mother of Patrol Officer Valle as she ran out of the federal courthouse on Centre Street.  Her outburst came minutes after the jury of six men and six women concluded that her son was guilty on the two charges he faced:  conspiracy to kidnap and accessing a federal government database without authorization.

“It’s a devastating verdict for us,” said Valle’s lead defense attorney, Julia Gatto.  “We have poured our hearts and souls into this case, and it was devastating to hear, ‘Guilty.’   …I’m sure Mr. Valle was crying.  I was certainly crying.  It was very emotional to hear, since we believe so much in his innocence.”

Valle has always insisted that disturbing evidence on his computers seized by the FBI were part of a subculture of paraphilia of which he was a part.  Paraphilia is a diagnosed mental condition, and paraphiliacs are sexually aroused by thoughts and images of cannibalism.

Among the evidence on the six-year NYPD veteran’s computers that led his now-estranged wife to report him to FBI investigators were images and videos of women chained up and bleeding.  An investigator admitted in court that the images and videos appeared to be staged scenarios.  Valle also possessed images of women who appeared to be dead, as well as detailed profiles of women — many of whom were friends or acquaintances of his.

Cannibal Cop School copy

The defense lawyer used accused ‘cannibal cop’ Gilberto Valle’s plan to abduct and cook a woman as proof that it was just a fantasy.

At least one of the profiles, titled “Abducting and Cooking Kimberly — A Blueprint” indicated criminal intent on Valle’s part.  But in that document, he falsified all of the personal information for the woman he’d plotted with other paraphiliacs to kidnap and abuse.

In fact, Valle, 28, never carried out any of the plans he dreamed up with other cannibal fetish users online, which is why his lawyers were convinced that he was innocent.  The jury said otherwise.

“People can be prosecuted for their thoughts,” Valle’s attorney, Robert Baum said outside of court minutes after the verdict came down.  Baum added, “And [they can be] convicted, which is even sadder.”

His co-counsel, Gatto, said, “The case involved thoughts that were unusual, bizarre, and frankly very ugly.  We think the jury just couldn’t get past that.”

The jury’s deliberation lasted from last Thursday afternoon to late Tuesday morning, with a break for the weekend.  Figuring out their collective thought process is, for now, a challenge.  PIX11 News went to the home of the jury foreperson, and called him as well, but he was not home for comment.  All other jurors left the courthouse without speaking to any reporters.

One juror, who did not want to speak with anyone, contacted the U.S. Attorney’s office to report that a journalist had managed to get past her doorman and to knock on her apartment door.  She didn’t answer.  U.S. Marshals have been put on standby to respond to unwanted inquiries of jurors by reporters.

The U.S. Attorney, whose office prosecuted this case, had plenty to say about it.  A statement issued by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, said, in part, “The Internet is a forum for the free exchange of ideas, but it does not confer immunity for plotting crimes and taking steps to carry out those crimes.”

Valle and his attorneys disagreed.  They said that the activity the disgraced police officer engaged in, which included accessing the National Crime Information Center’s database from his NYPD patrol car computer, was for the purpose of carrying out his fantasies only.

“These were thoughts, very ugly thoughts,” Gatto said outside of court, “but we don’t prosecute people for their thoughts.  And we’ll continue to appeal.”

She and her legal team plan to file a request within 30 days for the judge to throw out the jury’s verdict.  That is not expected to be approved.  Valle’s publicly-financed lawyers are also planning to have his case heard in a higher court.  They consider this a precedent case.

Meanwhile, Valle remains in solitary confinement in federal lockup.  His sentencing date is scheduled for June 19th.  He faces up to life in prison.