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United States v. Valle

807 F.3d 508 (2015)

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United States v. Valle

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

807 F.3d 508 (2015)

Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) charged former New York City police officer Gilberto Valle (defendant) with conspiracy to kidnap multiple women based on internet conversations Valle had with three other people on a fantasy sexual-fetish website. Valle was also charged with using a police database to search for a woman he knew and discussed with another fetishist. The fetishists exchanged webchats and emails that discussed kidnapping, raping, cooking, and cannibalizing women Valle knew, including his wife, but the fetishists never attempted to meet or speak with each other. During the same time, Valle had similar discussions about the same women with others on the fetish website that the government conceded were mere fantasy role-play. Nevertheless, the government argued Valle’s discussions purporting to plan specific kidnappings with the three fetishists amounted to a genuine conspiracy. Valle did run internet searches about how to kidnap people and discussed specific dates and locations the kidnappings would occur. However, in one instance, Valle talked about kidnapping three different women on the same day in three distant locations: Manhattan, India, and Ohio. Valle lied about possessing resources that could be used in the kidnappings, including a remote cabin, a human-sized oven, and a spit. He also lied about or never gave details that would have allowed other fetishists to locate or identify the targeted women, despite repeated requests. Although no kidnapping attempts ever occurred, the jury convicted. Valle moved for acquittal, arguing the government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the discussions amounted to more than fantasy role-play. The district judge acquitted with respect to the conspiracy charge but not misuse of the police database. The government appealed the acquittal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Parker, J.)

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