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Crime Your Rights Online

Judge Frees "Cannibal Cop" Who Shared His Fantasies Online 185

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) writes The story is classic: Boy meets Girl. Boy likes Girl. Boy goes on the internet and writes about his fantasies that involve killing and eating Girl. Boy goes to jail. In this case, the man in question, NYC police officer Gilberto Valle, didn't act on his fantasies — he just shared them in a like-minded internet forum. Yesterday, Valle was released from jail after a judge overturned his conviction on appeal. U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe wrote that Valle was "guilty of nothing more than very unconventional thoughts... We don't put people in jail for their thoughts. We are not the thought police and the court system is not the deputy of the thought police." The judge concluded that there was insufficient evidence, since "this is a conspiracy that existed solely in cyberspace" and "no reasonable juror could have found that Valle actually intended to kidnap a woman... the point of the chats was mutual fantasizing about committing acts of sexual violence on certain women." (A New York magazine article covered the details of the case and the implications of the original conviction earlier this year.)
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Judge Frees "Cannibal Cop" Who Shared His Fantasies Online

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  • by 3.5 stripes ( 578410 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @11:38AM (#47376793)

    That's fairly surprising, and really quite reasonable.

  • Would be different (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capt James McCarthy ( 860294 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @11:47AM (#47376923) Journal

    I bet you if he wrote about child pornography or terrorism it would be a different story.

    However, I agree with the judgement. It's a very slippery slop once that line is crossed and you have to take the good with the bad when you want ANY freedom.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @11:48AM (#47376945)

    -Working hard
    -Buying things
    -Having a family

    All other fantasies will be regarded as anti-social

  • Re:Is this true? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by praxis ( 19962 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @11:54AM (#47377003)

    We don't put people in jail for their thoughts.

    I'm not convinced this is true.

    Neither was the judge, I take it. I believe that was a statement to remind us how we intend to live not how we do live.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @11:58AM (#47377039) Homepage Journal
    It is because he was a cop. Recall that people have sent to jail for creating 'terrorist fantasies' because the FBI gave them the means and opportunity to carry out the fantasy. The courts do and have sent people to jail for fantasies. It is called conspiracy. In this case the fantasy targeted specific females, while the cop had means and opportunities to make those fantasies a reality. Remember that he went as far as using the police database to compile a list of real women he fantasized of eating, and was convicted for misuse of that database, so the fact this was moving out of fantasy has been proven. This is not a flight of reason. I am sure if a common person used a database to collect information on the judge or the judge's family and then wrote a detailed plan of how the family was to be murdered, we would not be getting of with a simple misuse of private information. This is clearly another case of no consequences for cops who break the law.
  • I'm not so sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @12:34PM (#47377395)

    If this was just a guy posting trash on Facebook I'd probably side with you. If you read the details of the case, you will find that this is not just someone ranting. This appears to be someone conspiring to commit rape, murder, and kidnapping.

    Whether the primary web site has a disclaimer or not, does not change the fact that this goes beyond the simple act of writing about a sick fantasy. He offered to kidnap someone for 5,000.00. He went and found a recipe for chloroform, then built a pulley system to string up one of the people he was talking about kidnapping and murdering. He used a Police database illegally for the purpose of gathering personal information about the people he appeared to be conspiring against (it was more than 1). This goes well beyond simply discussing "unconventional thoughts".

    Lets change the scenario a bit. If I was to claim I want to kill someone on Facebook, I'd be a person of interest but not doing anything illegal. When I go out and search for recipes for poisons, I'm still not illegal but I should be under watch, especially if the poison is generic household items which I may have on hand. Once I start illegally gathering personal information about the targets I claimed I want to kill, would I not be conspiring to commit murder? What if I owned a gun, would that be enough? (Remember that this person was a Cop and had a Gun, as well as a position of authority to abuse, and could have been legally stalking victims without anyone's knowledge on "patrols")

    If you believe it's reasonable, would you want the guy as a neighbor? Invite them over over for dinner? If so, good for you. I'd prefer to see a person like this under watch and psychological monitoring at a minimum.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @12:51PM (#47377571) Journal

    That's FUD. Yes the Southern Border is porous. Find me one example of a terrorist that has entered the country via that route. Just one. I'm not aware of it having happened. The United States shares intelligence with Mexico and Canada, so you're still dealing with the same fundamental problem of getting into the Western Hemisphere without being detected. Effectively you've given the security forces two bites at your apple, because you're going to have to sneak past Canadian/Mexican customs and American customs (legal route) or the Border Patrol (illegal route). If it was as easy as you make it sound it would have happened already. Heck, they've actually tried it from the Northern Border [wikipedia.org], and been caught while doing so.

    The gun stuff is FUD too. It's "very easy" to get your hands on a cache of firearms large enough to conduct a Mumbai style attack? Where exactly is it "easy" to do that? You can't go the legal route as a non-citizen. That leaves you with the choice of obtaining them from private sellers and/or the black market. Option #1 doesn't scale and Option #2 runs the risk of detection by law enforcement. The only way I can see pulling it off would be to have a sleeper agent in the United States months before your planned attack, who slowly assembled the required weapons cache, but the longer you're here the more likely it is that you get caught. Murphy's Law applies even to terrorists.....

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @01:26PM (#47377897) Homepage Journal

    Where's the line between "fantasy" and "conspiring"?
    Surely you must have one defined to be able to make your judgement call?

    And what's up with restricting people we find creepy for what they might do? I honestly think you are creepy and that you have the potential to commit some heinous acts. Should we put you under constant watch and psych monitoring too?

    Due process. It's not a difficult concept.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.