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Opening statements were scheduled Monday in the sensational trial of a New York policeman accused of plotting to kidnap and eat women.
Prosecutors were to tell a jury that Gilberto Valle, a promising New York Police Department officer, conspired to kidnap women and illegally accessed the police database for detailed research into potential victims.
The allegations are so gruesome that the court had to screen potential jurors for their views on extreme sexual fantasies, even showing them a photograph of a woman trussed up in a cooking pan, with an apple stuffed in her mouth.
Lawyers for Valle are expected to say that the 28-year-old is a fantasist who harmed no one and never intended to kidnap, let alone cook his victims. They say he was part of a surprisingly active online community in which men discuss cannibalism as a fetish, without taking the idea further.
Valle has pleaded not guilty but faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on the kidnapping conspiracy charge.
The officer, who had been aiming for promotion to sergeant, is in custody in Manhattan at the Metropolitan Correctional Center's Special Housing Unit for high-security prisoners.