NEW YORK — A New York City police officer was convicted Tuesday of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat” — a macabre case that subjected jurors to often gory evidence and asked them to separate fantasy from reality.
The Manhattan jury reached the verdict in federal court at the kidnapping conspiracy trial of Officer Gilberto Valle, a 28-year-old father with an admitted fetish for talking on the Internet about cannibalism.
Valle’s lawyers, at what the tabloids dubbed the “Cannibal Cop” trial, chose not to hide what they called his “weird proclivities.” But they insisted that he was just fantasizing and noted that none of the women were ever harmed.
Valle bowed his head and looked teary-eyed when the verdict was announced. He hugged his lawyer, Julia Gatto, who said later that she and Valle had been crying.
“It’s a devastating verdict for us. We poured our hearts and souls into this,” Gatto said of a defense team that all dropped their heads when the verdict was announced.
“The jury was unable to get past the thoughts,” Gatto said. “Obviously, the case involved thoughts that were unusual and bizarre and frankly very ugly.”
She called it a “dangerous prosecution when we start opening our minds and prosecuting what’s in our brains and not what’s in the real world.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement: “Today, a unanimous jury found that Gilberto Valle’s detailed and specific plans to abduct women for the purpose of committing grotesque crimes were very real, and that he was guilty as charged. 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’s mother, Elizabeth, shook her head as the verdict was rendered.