A federal judge has released a former New York police officer accused of plotting to murder and eat women, one day after overturning his 2013 kidnapping conspiracy conviction.
Judge Paul G. Gardephe on Monday ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Gilberto Valle, who was arrested in 2012 after posting his fantasies about abduction and torture on a fetish website. According to the New York Times, Valle was released Tuesday on $100,000 bond. A
“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,” Gardephe wrote in his 118-page opinion. “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.””
According to the Associated Press, prosecutors say they’ll appeal Gardephe’s decision. Valle — known as the “cannibal cop” — won’t be able to use the Internet and is confined to home detention, the Times reports. He’ll also undergo a mental health evaluation.
“I want to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone I hurt, shocked and offended with my infantile behavior,” Valle said after his release, according to the AP.
A second conviction of illegally gaining access to the law enforcement database stands, but it carried a maximum one-year sentence, so Valle wasn’t facing additional jail time. He hadn’t been sentenced for the kidnapping conspiracy charge yet, but could have been given a life term.
Valle wasn’t accused of causing physical harm to victims, but authorities believed his online posts about abduction and torture crossed a line between fantasy and reality. He wrote about his desire to cut up and cook women (including his wife), though his attorneys argued it was merely role playing.
“Gil Valle has been in jail for almost 21 months — seven months of that were in the indescribable hell that is solitary confinement — all for a crime he didn’t commit,” One of Valle’s defense attorneys, Julia L. Gatto, said after his release. “He is guilty of nothing more than very unconventional thoughts, but as Judge Gardephe has validated, we don’t put people in jail for their thoughts.”
To read more on the case, check out this New York feature by Robert Kolker, which was published earlier this year.