Fantasizing online about kidnapping, sexually abusing, and eating women does not amount to unlawful conduct or thoughtcrime, a federal appeals court ruled. A person's "inclinations and fantasies are his own and beyond the reach of the government," 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Barrington Parker wrote Thursday in the criminal case of Gilberto Valle, dubbed the New York City "cannibal cop."

"We are loath to give the government power to punish us for our thoughts and not our actions," Barrington ruled. "That includes the power to criminalize an individual’s expression of sexual fantasies, no matter how perverse or disturbing."

The 2-1 decision by the New York-based federal appeals court sides with a trial judge who dismissed a jury's verdict that the former police officer was guilty of conspiracy to kidnap because of his online discussions with members of the Dark Fetish Network (DFN). The government, on the other hand, argued that the online communications "taken at face value, were fully sufficient to establish his intent to join a kidnapping conspiracy."

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