You may think you know the story of Gilberto Valle (second from right, above), the NYPD officer who got caught planning to kidnap, torture, kill, cook, and eat women — right? The now-exonerated Valle, who nevertheless will never shake the “Cannibal Cop” moniker, has just released a book, in which he says he is finally able to tell his story, his truth, about the case.Raw Deal, cowritten with Brian Whitney, is an engrossing and very well-written book that shows a different side to the Valle who became a vilified punchline. The reader gets to know the earnest NYPD officer, the happily married husband, the doting father of a toddler, and the loving dog owner. And, well, the guy who might have a bit of an online porn addiction, and who very definitely crossed a line by uploading photos of real women from his life to public fetish forums — but who may not have done anything worse than that.
It must be remembered of course, that this is his version of events and just as with any story teller, they must be taken with a grain (maybe a dash) of salt.
Aside from the lurid subject matter, the book is important because it describes an apparent real-life case of the Orwellian nightmare of being persecuted and put on trial simply for “thoughtcrime.” The thing is, a lot of sexual fantasies aren’t pretty. If everyone’s most private desires became public and their freak flags were flown, a lot of people would end up looking suspicious. As Valle never took action on anything he’d written about, his online fantasy stories don’t amount to much more than erotic fiction.
As the authors bring up in the text:
“How many of us have ever thought about … an action that if made a reality would constitute a crime? … What about the person who belongs to online terrorist groups but never commits a violent act? … What about authors of thrillers and mysteries who Google criminal acts to add realism to their stories?”
Me with my defense team. Quite literally the people who saved my life. pic.twitter.com/j778dO16kg
— Gil Valle (@gilvalle3) February 27, 2017
CrimeFeed asked Valle his thoughts on when what is simply fantasy crosses the line between being healthy and unhealthy. He responded:
“I don’t think it’s a ‘one size fits all’ situation. One the one hand, the internet provides anonymity so a person can get really into a fictional character during a role-play, seemingly safe from others finding out who they are. But others might argue that the anonymity allows someone to show their true colors. So it’s tough. I think the best we can do is look at each case and look at the person’s real-life actions. How have they behaved in the past? How are their current relationships? Obviously, have they gathered any equipment/tools to carry out a violent act?”
Valle swears that he never intended on taking action on any of his fantasies, and had never even had anything other than vanilla sex with any partners. He believes that his online actions and interactions didn’t hurt anyone and were only for his own sexual gratification. He just had the bad luck to be busted by his wife for his porn habits, and then have them dragged through the headlines and the courts for the world to see.
Dr. Park Dietz, a criminologist and forensic psychiatrist who examined Valle for United States of America v. Gilberto Valle, stated in a lengthy declaration:
“Good men with the misfortune of being aroused by socially unacceptable images carry a heavier burden than most; they must make do with fantasy, talk, or simulation, or they risk rejection, humiliation, and disclosure to third parties if they if they ask their partners to try or simulate some of their fantasized activities.”
Dietz also concluded to the court that, “Mr. Valle has been sexually stimulated by images and thoughts of other men abducting and binding females since he was a teenager, without ever attempting to abduct or bind a female in any manner whatsoever.” The entirety of the Dietz Declaration can be read here.
Valle also insists in the book that he was the victim of railroading, and accuses both the police and the prosecution of lying and judicial misconduct. In fact, he’s suing, for the 21 months he spent in jail for a crime he was exonerated of, seven months of which he lived in solitary confinement.
You might still find Valle an unsympathetic character, as he does freely discuss his fetishes and admit that he still indulges in bondage and cannibalism fantasies, some of which are described in detail. But the book is a fascinating read, and Valle is a skillful writer, who manages to convey his fear and frustration from behind the prison walls as his wife left him, taking their baby daughter; the NYPD turned their back on him; and the public were revolted and amused by him.
Throughout it all, he insisted on his innocence and had to fight what he says was incorrect or fabricated evidence against him, a documentarian who he trusted who then betrayed him, the loss of his family, and of course, his rise to celebrity status as the “Cannibal Cop.”
CrimeFeed spoke with Valle about Raw Deal, and he said:
“This is a brutally honest book with graphic details. Some readers are likely to find parts of the book will test their boundaries, but I am hopeful that all readers will reach the right conclusion that I was subject to a dishonest prosecution — replete with flagrant misconduct — and that I did not belong in prison.”
You can read an excerpt from the book here.
Main photo: Raw Deal by Gil Valle, front cover [Amazon]