By Dorri Olds
The infamous case of Cannibal Cop Gilberto Valle illustrates the blurred facts and fantasy in a digital world. Valle was a New York City police officer arrested in 2012 for conspiracy to kidnap. He was convicted a year later and faced life in prison plus five years for another charge: accessing the federal National Crime Information Center database without authorization. After Valle served 21 months in prison, the judge, Paul Gardephe, shocked everyone by overturning the verdict. Now Valle has written a memoir, Raw Deal: The Untold Story of NYPD’s Cannibal Cop.
In 2012, Valle’s suspicious wife Kathleen installed spyware on their home computer and her snooping revealed gruesome chats on sexual fetish sites. In elaborate detail, Valle typed about rape, torture, murder, and eating women—including Kathleen.
In his defense, Valle swore it was all just pretend—innocuous role-playing like gamers do in World of Warcraft. But, although the intricate details sounded real, the ex-cop insists he never acted on his depraved sexual fantasies. No woman in the 3D world was ever abducted or violated. According to Valle, it was all talk merely to enhance pleasuring himself.
His arrest, trial, and conviction are reminiscent of the “Thought Police” in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Eerily, Valle was born in 1984. Oh, the irony in this creepy case. The New York Post had a ball with punny headlines. Examples include “Cannibal Cop dishes on how his twisted role plays came to a boil” and “Cannibal Cop says he’s a hot dish on the dating scene.”
Honeysuckle’s Dorri Olds landed an exclusive interview with the Cannibal Cop.
Dorri Olds: When you spent seven months in solitary confinement did you fantasize about hogtied women to satisfy yourself sexually?
No, it wasn’t an environment conducive to pleasuring myself. It was depressing and thoughts raced through my head—the court case, my ex-wife, my daughter, my family. As it got closer to the trial, I was mostly thinking about the case. My lawyer sent paperwork. The government was turning over discovery and I was reading all that stuff and thinking about how to fight the case. The prosecutors made a lot of false allegations. I have a very good memory so I was able to [reconstruct] things to help my case.
Prosecutors accused me of being in lower Manhattan on a Saturday to [find] a woman but I took a friend to see Ground Zero and showed him around the city. That’s what I was really doing. I had to find proof of the truth. I spent a lot of time thinking about stuff like that.
Are you accusing the prosecuting attorneys of lying?
Yes, they lied about a lot of things. I was a cop for almost seven years so I had the mindset that cops and prosecutors were doing the right thing. Defense attorneys were looking for a technicality to put criminals back on the streets. But it turned out to be the complete opposite. What an eye-opener.
Now I’m on board with defense lawyers and automatically tuned to look for prosecutorial misconduct. I’m not saying that every prosecutor is like that—most are fair and just. The dishonesty in my case was frustrating. Those untruths stuck to me even though it’s been proven the prosecutors blatantly misrepresented facts and lied, yet nothing was done to them. It’s like, ‘So what they lied?’”
Sounds like what’s going on in the White House—Trump and his cabinet lie frequently but fans believe them, despite evidence. Trump is a misogynist—is that why your violent sexual fantasies excite you? Do you hate women?
I understand that women read about my fantasies and don’t want to be associated with me. They may hate or even fear me. But human sexuality is complicated. You don’t choose the things you’re aroused by. But I took no actions. This was all fictional, fantasy, role-play over the internet. It never affected my real life. I was a good husband, a good father. The fantasies were just something that existed inside me and I was able to live with that.
Obviously, I wish I wasn’t aroused by this stuff but it’s just there. The main question with this case, and my book, is that I’m not looking for people to be comfortable around me. I’m looking for people to look at everything and conclude that I should not have been in prison. No matter how horrible a person’s thoughts are, without action, that isn’t a crime. That’s freedom of speech, the First Amendment. Again, I’m not looking for friends or people to like me. I’m looking for those most disgusted and revolted to still conclude that I did nothing illegal.
You just said you wish you didn’t have these fantasies. But you’ve also said that when you were younger, you didn’t see anything wrong with your fantasy life. Has your view changed simply because of the trial, jail, and public humiliation?
Yeah, that’s really it. My plan was to go through life without ever telling anyone about this stuff. I never thought there was anything wrong with me because it never affected my real life. Growing up, I was a great student, had lots of friends. I was a good baseball player and a typical American kid. Then [became] a cop. I was a good cop, a good husband and a good father.
Your wife stated that you didn’t have much of a sex life. She wanted both of you to see a sex counselor, right?
There was no talk about a sex counselor until after she found everything and left. She suggested that we maybe go to a couple’s therapist. That was her initial reaction upon finding everything.
Did you and Kathleen have a happy sex life?
Our sex life diminished a bit after the baby was born. I don’t think there’s anything unusual about that. We weren’t sleeping much and it was complicated because I worked nights.
Before the baby and working nights, were you able to have sex without fantasy?
Yeah, absolutely. Our sex life was fine. I was happy with it. She was happy with it. That’s as much as I want to say, because I don’t want to invade her space too much, but from our perspective, things were good. We were happy. Everything was going very well.
When did you last see your daughter?
She was one when I was arrested. She’s five years old now and has no idea who her dad is. That’s being worked out in family court. I petitioned for visitation rights. That’s as much as I can say, because it’s being done under seal. I’m the subject of a lot of jokes and I’m fine with that. I’d rather people laugh and make fun of me than be afraid of me. But the thing people are missing is that my family’s gone, my career is gone.
What does she know about her father?
I have no idea because I haven’t spoken to Kathleen or her family, not one word. Our communication is through lawyers. That’s unfortunate. I’m very optimistic that the judge is going to rule in my favor, that I’ll be able to reunite with my daughter. I’m also hopeful that as adults, Kathleen and I can find a way to be cordial for the sake of our daughter. I’m not sure if we’re going to get there. I hope we can.
How would you feel if a man fantasized about your daughter—tying her up, putting fruit in her mouth, cutting her up, cooking and eating her?
That’s a very tough question. No one has ever asked me that. Obviously, as a father, I want my daughter to be completely safe. That’s my number one concern. I would be uncomfortable with people thinking about her like that. On the other hand, if something’s going to happen to that person with those fantasies, then something would have had to happen to me too. It’s two sides of a coin. When it’s your own daughter, I guess I think about it differently. I wasn’t always circumspect when I was online. I think this experience has made me a little more careful and considerate about what other people would think. At the same time, if someone wants to think about stuff, they can’t be sent to prison. That doesn’t mean I’d be okay with it. I wouldn’t want my daughter anywhere near that person, but the issue is does a person belong in prison for thinking that? The answer would have to be no.
Is your father-in-law still in the picture? Is he alive?
I believe so. I’m not sure.
Did you ever have to look him in the eye during the court case?
No. The courtroom was completely packed. I didn’t notice him there.
Were your parents in the courtroom every day?
Yes, and at all the pretrial hearings. It was uncomfortable for them but it was good they came. They never believed the allegations.
What was their reaction to your sexual fantasies?
It was shocking to them. I never told anyone about this stuff. My brother is the person I’m closest to on this planet and I never told him. They knew me for 28 years, and knew I wasn’t capable of violence like this.
If you didn’t see anything wrong with your fantasies, why didn’t you tell anyone?
It wasn’t anything I spent a lot of time thinking about. When I say there was nothing wrong with my fantasies, I knew it was a little different, a little abnormal. That’s why I didn’t want to share it with anybody, because they would think I was some kind of freak. They would outcast me. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with me because my life was so perfect. Other than my parents separating when I was five, I had as good a life as a person could possibly have.
When your parents divorced, did your mother get full custody?
No. My mother was the one who left, and she wasn’t working, so my father had custody, and we would be at my mom’s every other weekend. Then school vacations we’d have a week with mom.
I could see how that would make a little boy very angry at his mother.
I was so young, I didn’t think about it that much. That environment was normal. My parents separating was normal for me and my brother. Both my parents were very involved in our upbringing. My mom was always close. It’s not like she went to another state. She was always very much a part of our lives. She came to our baseball games and everything.
Did you talk to her every day?
Not every day. Every couple days, she’d call.
Did your father have time to spend with you, or you were raised by a nanny?
We had a nanny. My father worked. He was a Wall Street broker. The nanny would come early in the morning. She’d walk us to school. She’d cook dinner. We had a comfortable middle-class upbringing. We never had a ton of money but we lived within our means.
Were your parents surprised that you wanted to be a cop?
Yeah, but they were supportive of me. I explained to them my goal was not to be in a patrol car my whole life. I have a college education, and have the brains to work my way up the ranks at a police department. I had actually passed a sergeant’s exam on my first attempt. I was about a month away from being promoted before I was arrested.
You seem like a regular guy—sweet, caring, kind, moral—yet you have these dark fantasies.
Yeah, that was the reaction of a lot of people when I was arrested. I couldn’t read anything in solitary confinement but I caught up on reading since I got out of prison. Many people said, “I could never even imagine. He seemed like such a nice guy.” Those people were right, because I would never hurt anyone in real life.
There was a crime committed in this case. It was the FBI. Those people committed perjury. I’m hoping that someone reads my book and looks into this, because I’m not okay with these agents and these prosecutors continuing to practice. The way they behaved, they don’t belong within a hundred miles of a courthouse.
The judge acquitting me, that is so incredibly rare. That should show people what a travesty this prosecution was. His ruling was based on the lack of evidence. The jury’s verdict cannot stand because there’s no evidence to support it. He could have left it at that, but he even felt compelled to mention some of the misconduct that they engaged in, so I was happy to see that.
What about your charge for accessing the crime database without authorization?
They charged me with violating a hacking statute, for using the patrol car computer at work to run one woman’s name. It wasn’t 100 women. There was no hacking into a database. That was the complete misrepresentation. They charged me with hacking, which I didn’t hack into anything. At trial, the woman whose name I ran, she testified that she had asked me to look into something for her. What I did was a violation of NYPD policy, but it wasn’t a federal crime. I shouldn’t have been fired for that.
With your sexual fetishes out in public, do you meet women that are attracted to that?
Yeah, I have opportunities with women but I really can’t commit right now because I don’t know where I’m gonna be a year from now. I might be in Nevada. If the judge out there rules that I can reunite with my daughter, I’m probably gonna move out to Nevada, so I’m not in a position to settle down right now but eventually, yes, I would like to start over and meet the right woman and get married again and no secrets this time. Hopefully I can do it right. It’ll be a completely open and honest relationship.
That is one regret. Maybe if I hadn’t kept all this stuff from Kathleen, maybe if I was a little more open, who knows? But we’ll never know, so it’s unfortunate. I wish I was still married to her. I wish that none of this happened. I wish I was known for something else, but that being said, I have to continue to rebuild my life. I can’t let this hold me back. I’m doing my best to do everything a 32-year-old does. If I don’t rebuild my life, I feel like the prosecutors and the FBI, still win. The final piece of the puzzle is reuniting with my daughter. That’s the emptiness I feel every day.