The Cannibal Cop Trial Is Over, but the 'Fantasy' Crime Debate Is Not

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In the dramatic conclusion of a trial as memorable for its being sickening as the kind of precedent it may set about fantasies of murder without follow-through, the New York City "Cannibal Cop" just got eaten by a federal jury. Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD cop on trial for planning to cook and eat a woman — was found guilty on all charges he faced Tuesday morning. He now faces life in prison.

Valle was found guilty of "conspiracy to kidnap and illegal use of law enforcement computer databases to research potential targets," according to the New York Daily News. Through the often graphic trial, we learned that Valle tracked his wife and her friends' movements and had specific plans for what he would do to each of them.

Valle's "mentor," a man from Britain named Dale Bolinger whom Valle met on a creepy online message board called "darkfetishnet," was arrested and questioned to see if the mentor's claims of eating two women and a child were true. Bolinger claimed it was just stupid stuff that he said on the Internet: "None of this is real. It is all fantasy," Bolinger told the New York Post at the time.

And therein lies the long-term impact of a trial that couldn't have ended quickly enough (except for maybe the New York tabloids): While we won't know Valle's complete fate until his sentencing on June 19, the "fantasy" precedent has now been set, at least by one federal jury in one particularly gruesome would-be crime. Arrests and convictions for fetishism have been debated since the "Terrorist's Cookbook" came to the fore, but this case brought new conversations in legal and civil-liberties circles.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.