‘Cannibal Cop’ co-defendants will stick to fantasy defense

gilberto valle
Gilberto Valle is on trial for allegedly plotting to kidnap, kill and eat women.
Credit: Facebook

Less than a year after a jury found New York City’s so-called Cannibal Cop, Gilberto Valle, guilty of plotting to kidnap, torture and cannibalize women, two alleged co-conspirators going on trial this week are expected to mount the same defense.

Valle’s trial was among the first in the United States to spotlight a thorny legal issue, drawing the fine line between online fantasy role play and violent criminal conspiracy.

Last spring, Valle’s lawyers told jurors that the numerous emails and conversations outlining plans to kidnap and eat women were in fact sexual fetish role-play games — part of a large but little-known online subculture of cannibal fetish enthusiasts.

Prosecutors countered that the detailed kidnap plots targeting real women may have started as fantasy chats but grew into real plans. Valle was convicted, although he is appealing the verdict.

This week, Michael Van Hise, 23, of New Jersey, and Robert Christopher Asch, 62, a former New York City school librarian, will be tried on the same key charge. Van Hise faces a single kidnapping conspiracy count, and Asch faces two. Both men’s cases arose from the investigation into Valle.

Attorneys for both defendants said they will advance the same defense as Valle.

“The defense in all these cases is the same for a reason,” said Asch’s attorney, Brian Waller. “It’s true.”

A fourth man linked with the group, Richard Meltz, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of conspiracy in exchange for a plea deal.

Former sex crimes prosecutors, First Amendment lawyers and sexual behaviorists said Valle’s case appears to be the first to center on a suspected conspiracy to commit a violent sexual crime that began on a website for sadistic fantasy role play.

“It’s the perfect alibi,” former state sex crimes prosecutor Linda Fairstein told Reuters last year.

Defense attorneys say the men were part of a popular and lawful but misunderstood online fantasy role-playing community, and never intended to break the law.

“You draw on your real life to make it as real as possible, but it’s fantasy,” Van Hise defense attorney Alice Fontier told a judge last year.

Van Hise began cooperating with federal investigators when he was first approached in late 2012, Fontier said. Van Hise then introduced Asch and Meltz to a female undercover federal agent that the trio discussed kidnapping and cannibalizing.

A spokesperson for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has declined to comment.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.