A federal judge has ruled that New York City ex-cop Gilbert Valle's online fantasies of kidnapping and eating women were exactly that – a fantasy. Though a jury convicted Valle in 2013 because they believed his online conversations indicated he wanted to carry out his rather unusual sexual fetish in the real world, a federal judge has overturned the conviction. From the Associated Press:
Judge Paul Gardephe ruled late Monday that there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction of Gilberto Valle, defense attorney Julia Gatto said Tuesday.
"The judge's well-reasoned decision validates what we have said since the beginning: There was no crime," she said. "Gil Valle is innocent of any conspiracy. Gil is guilty of nothing more than having unconventional thoughts."
I wrote about the case last year, worrying about whether he had been charged on the basis of his dark fantasies being extremely disturbing to the average person. But he had also used his access to a police database to actually track one of his fantasy targets. Judge Gardephe, though, in an 118-page ruling, determined there was no actual evidence to indicate a real plan to kidnap anybody. From The New York Times:
Judge Gardephe wrote that "once the lies and the 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 pain, terror and degradation.
"Despite the highly disturbing nature of Valle's deviant and depraved sexual interests, his chats and emails about these interests are not sufficient — standing alone — to make out the elements of conspiracy to commit kidnapping."
Prosecutors are appealing the decision. According to the Times, they asked for Valle to be detained for the appeal, but the judge refused. He was released to home detention. His conviction for illegally accessing the police database still stands.