Gilberto Valle: Cannibalism, Sexual Sadism, Fantasy and Criminal Intent

The trial of Gilberto Valle, the “Cannibal Cop” began in Manhattan this week. The New York Police Officer is charged with Federal kidnapping conspiracy. The charge sheet can be found here. The evidence consists largely of e-mails and instant messages in which Officer Valle was “discussing plans to kidnap, rape, torture, kill, cook and eat body parts of a number of women.”

His defence team is arguing that this was just a sexual fantasy and that Valle had no intention of carrying out any of these crimes.

Cannibalism of this nature is at the extreme end of sexually sadistic fantasies. The fetish has a specific name – gynophagia. It is unknown for such offences to be committed in the UK and there are no statistics available for the USA at the current time. These fantasies have a specific label – Dolcett Fantasies, named after an anonymous comic’s fetish artist from Toronto, Canada, who became famous thanks to the Internet. Dolcett, who first became active in the late twentieth century, draws scenes of bondage, extreme torture including impalement, cannibalism, rape and murder of women, often representing these acts as consensual. His mostly black and white drawings have a distinctive style that makes them immediately recognizable. It is a ‘Stepford Wives’ scenario taken beyond the taboo. Needless to say he has quite a cult following on the Internet.

So, yes, this man could have some rather extreme sexual fantasies.

However, sexual fantasies by their nature become something else when they are shared. Most of us have had sexual fantasies of one kind or another at some time in our lives. Some of us have been brave enough, and lucky enough, to have found a willing partner with which to mutually explore these fantasies in a fully informed and consensual manner with full empathy for the other person. They stop becoming a fantasy and become a shared journey. In other words, the “it’s only a fantasy” defence only has credibility when it is a solo secret in one’s own mind.

The moment that you share an idea or concept with another person you are deemed to have “published” it — in law. It is a very broad brush — for example, if I show you a picture I have obtained via the internet then I have “published” that picture to you — regardless of where it came from. If you and I discuss a method of carrying out an activity then, unless both parties are clear (and can prove) that the discussion was purely academic hypothesis, then that constitutes conspiracy. If, by carrying out the action, a law would be broken then it becomes “criminal conspiracy.”

Valle not only discussed the idea of murdering, cooking and eating his female alive; he discussed the methodology, the equipment needed and had started to establish a blueprint on how he would carry out his crime.

From the evidence shown so far, I would conclude that by doing the above he has already crossed the line between fantasy and criminal intent.

I await with interest the psychological reports which will hopefully give us insights into the mind of Valle and establish if he is criminally insane or not.

Note: I have a background in sexual psychology and spent 15 years working with alternative sexualities. A lot of my experience during this time was in helping people realise their fantasies in a safe and consensual manner.  Additional help for this article was provided by a great friend and mentor who is a criminal psychologist who has worked in the UK Penal system with sex offenders. He wishes to remain nameless at this time.