In this courtroom drawing Federal Defender Julie Gatto requests bail for her client, New York City Police Officer Gilberto Valle, right, at Manhattan Federal Court, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
NEW YORK (AP) -- A New York City cop accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women never actually harmed anyone. But prosecutors say his fantasies morphed into a very real threat.
A defense attorney says the officer, Gilberto Valle, was merely engaging in harmless Internet fantasy. He was arrested Thursday and charged in federal court after his estranged wife called authorities.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hadassa Waxman, though, says Valle was on the verge of kidnapping, cooking and eating a woman.
The line between bizarre talk and a true plot has emerged as the key question in a case that has shocked even the most jaded New Yorkers. Experts say many people have a compulsion to create horrific scenarios about cannibalism, and that the Internet allows them to indulge in their dark side anonymously and safely.