Under intense cross-examination, an FBI agent admitted Wednesday that 80 percent of accused "cannibal cop" Gilberto Valle's Internet chats involved only fantasy role-playing that was similar in many ways to chats the government contends involved "real" plots to kidnap women.
Agent Corey Walsh, testifying on the third day of Valle's conspiracy trial, also admitted that the FBI found no tangible evidence that Valle ever harmed a woman, no evidence that he had the ropes or chloroform he discussed in chats, and no support for his bluster about owning a country estate where he could cook women outdoors.
The agent gave similar answers when defense attorney Robert Baum asked if there was any evidence to support Valle's claims that he constructed a pulley system to restrain women and a soundproofed basement to hold them.
"No sir," Walsh said.
Valle, 28, of Queens, a six-year NYPD veteran, is charged in federal court in Manhattan with conspiring in Internet chats to abduct, abuse and eat women he knew, and with misusing a police database. He was turned in last year when his wife found his chats, but his attorneys say he was role-playing because abuse fantasies turn him on.
Prosecutors say he conspired with three men he met through a sex-fetish website -- a Pakistani screen-named "Ali Khan," a British man screen-named "Moody Blues," and Michael Van Hise of New Jersey.
Walsh, however, said Valle had never met or spoken by phone with any of his three alleged co-conspirators. He also testified that about 24 individuals engaged in thousands of sex-themed chats plucked from Valle's computer, but a team of 10 to 12 agents and prosecutors decided Valle was merely fantasizing with 21 of the 24.
In "fantasy" chats, Valle and his partners sometimes said it was fantasy, Walsh testified, while the "real" ones "contained elements of real crimes" involving real women. "They described dates, names and activities that you would use to conduct a real crime," he said.
Baum pounced on the distinction. He showed multiple "fantasy" chats Valle had in which the same real women targeted in "real" chats were discussed, their pictures were sent, and dates were discussed, payments for kidnapping negotiated, tools like chloroform and rope listed and techniques of sex torture shared in almost identical words.
In some of the "fantasy" chats, Baum noted, Valle and his partner even said they were real -- including one in which Valle said he had grabbed a real woman named Sally Kane and had her tied up in his basement. Baum asked if Kane verified that when agents interviewed herThe chats classified by the FBI as "fantasy" also included passages in which Valle's comments about his seriousness echoed his defense in the trial. "It's fun to chat and push the envelope," he told one partner, who asked if he would ever act out his fantasies.
"I don't think so," Valle wrote.