An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling in favor of former NYPD officer Gilberto Valle — the so-called "cannibal cop." In 2012, Valle was fired and arrested for going online and talking about his fantasies, which included kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, and cannibalism. He was later convicted in a jury trial. A district court judge overturned the conviction, but the government appealed, hoping to make it stick. The Appeals Court has now affirmed Valle's acquittal. In the ruling (PDF), the court notes, "We are loathe to give the government the power to punish us for our thoughts and not our actions. That includes the power to criminalize an individual's expression of sexual fantasies, no matter how perverse or disturbing. Fantasizing about committing a crime, even a crime of violence against a real person whom you know, is not a crime." The court also addressed the government's questionable efforts to use the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to increase the severity of Valle's punishment: "While the Government might promise that it would not prosecute an individual for checking Facebook at work, we are not at liberty to take prosecutors at their word in such matters."
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